Meet Molly

Written in 1986 by Valerie Tripp, illustrated by Nick Backes, Keith Skeen, and Renee Graef


Here we are introduced to Molly McIntire, the third of four children living with their mother in Illinois. Their father has been gone in England seven months, using his skills as a doctor to treat soldiers wounded in World War II's European theater. Missing her father makes Molly resent the strict housekeeper, Mrs. Gilford, even more. She wants things back the way they used to be, when they didn't have to ration things like sugar or other things, her fourteen-year-old sister Jill wasn't so concerned with growing up, her twelve-year-old and five-year-old brothers Ricky and Brad weren't so bothersome, her mom didn't have to gone at work all day, and her dad was safe at home.

Still, she's able to distract herself with the day-to-day concerns of a typical nine-year-old, like what she and her best friends Susan and Linda will be for Halloween. Molly's mother suggests hula dancers, and the girls have a great time showing off their costumes. But when they come back to Molly's house for a sleepover, and before Molly's mother can take a picture to send their father, Ricky blasts them with a hose, ruining their treats and their newspaper and crepe paper costume. Mrs. McIntire comes up with a pretty good punishment, I think: Ricky has to give the girls the treats he got (he can keep one piece) and clean up the mess he made. But the girls think it's not punishment enough, and the next morning they embarrass Ricky in front of Jill's friend, Dolores. Ricky has a crush on Dolores, and Molly and her friends get her to come outside where Ricky is and dump out the contents of his underwear drawer from a second-story window.

Mrs. McIntire comes home just in time to see the revenge. She chastises all four of them: this sort of one-up-mans-ship and petty revenge is what starts wars in the first place. She sets the girls to work washing Ricky's clothes, and makes sure Ricky finishes cleaning up the costume bits. While working, Ricky and Molly apologize sincerely to each other, and remember the importance of sticking together as a family.

Looking Back

This time, the section gives a brief overview of World War II and how it affected life in the United States. There was a lot of rationing: factories made planes and tanks instead of planes or tents instead of clothes, and people were encouraged to grow their own food in backyard "victory gardens." With many men away at war (and some women, especially as nurses), women began working outside the home more. People were generally proud to "do their part" to help the war effort.


This book is dedicated to the author's family.

I've been that kid who was told to stay at the table until I'd eaten my food. I don't remember it going well, and I'm still picky. I do think it's important for kids (and adults) to try new foods, maybe even more than once, and to be polite, but it's unreasonable to expect them to like absolutely everything. Even my older brother who likes everything else doesn't like the taste of mushrooms.

Halloween 1944 was a Tuesday, but the next day is clearly pointed out to be Saturday. Some areas hold trick-or-treating on the nearest weekend, so it could make sense. Maybe.

June 6, 1944 was also a Tuesday. D-Day. Molly's dad would have been in England then. I wonder if he treated a lot of wounded, or if too many of them died first. (I remember blood banks turning people away after the September 11 attacks and asking them to come back in a few weeks, because there just weren't that many survivors.)

Speaking of blood donations, the Looking Back section reveals that Molly's mom works for the American Red Cross blood bank. There's a picture of some African-American giving blood. It think the section is remiss in not mentioning Dr. Charles Drew, an African-American doctor who was instrumental in the creation of the AMC blood bank and in striking down the misguided notion that people could only receive blood transfusion from donors of the same race. The only concerns are compatible blood type--e.g.; I'm O+ and so can give to any Rh+ type--and blood-borne illness. (Contrary to the urban legend, Dr. Drew did not die because his race preventing his receiving medical treatment, by the way.)

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