Chances and Changes: My Journey with Molly

Published in 2016; author Valerie Tripp; illustrators Julie Kolesova and Michael Dwornik

"My Journey" books

These are choose-your-own adventure books written from a first person perspective. Just for ease, I'm going to always pick the first option when I come them, but I'll try to mention the other possible endings. Since the reader is meant to insert herself into the story, most of the the main characters (a modern-day pre-teen) aren't named. Since it would sound to weird to me to summarize the story as, "and then (Historical Characters) and I saw a..." I've been using the author's first name, but in this book we find out the main character's name is Margaret in the first sentence.


Margaret is excited about the foal her best friend's horse is about to have, and wants to help Bea pick the perfect name. Bea gently points out how difficult it is for Margaret to ever make up her mind, which she has to admit is true. And it's not long before she's faced with another choice: she's offered a scholarship to an eight-week summer music camp. It's an incredible opportunity, but it would mean missing out on time helping raise the foal with Bea (who is homeschooled, unlike Margaret who goes to public school; they don't see each other often). The foal is born the next day. Bea thinks Margaret should stay home, but Margaret's grandmother thinks she should go to camp. Margaret walks into the woods to think. By an abandoned staircase, she spies a pin, a gold bar with three red stones and one white one. She picks it up and rubs some dirt off the white stone, and is suddenly somewhere else.

Margaret is at a summer camp. She finds out because almost immediately upon her arrival in the past, a girl named Molly introduces herself. When Molly dashes off to find her friend Linda (she assumes Margaret is a new camper, and wants to help her feel welcomed), Margaret rubs the white stone again and is back in the present. Realizing how it works, she takes advantage of this opportunity to try something new and returns to the camp. There she meets Linda, and in the course of conversation realizes she's in the past (President Truman, World War II ending, President Roosevelt having died recently). Molly and Linda explain there's an empty bed in their tent which Margaret is welcome to. They assume her trunk is delayed, and plan to raid the lost and found for a swimsuit, pajamas, and other things Margaret will need. On the way to the tent, Molly's dad drives up with something she left in the car. Margaret can tell there's something amiss about the relationship between Molly and her dad, but she's not sure what. Molly and Linda tell Margaret about camp, and how soon they can either go on a two-night hike or stay at the main camp to enjoy activities.

First choice: hike or stay

The girls prepare for the hike, and get to know each other a little bit as they trek through the woods. Molly brings up how her dad has suggested a summer fishing trip, carrying on a tradition he had with his dad. Molly is undecided, in part because of her fear of drowning and also because it would interfere with being in the school band. Margaret sympathizes; she has a similar tough decision between disappointing her grandmother (staying with the foal) or Bea (music camp). Linda brings up last summer's camp and how even though she and Molly were on opposing sides for the Color War and Molly dumped worms on her, she got past it. She's sure that whatever Molly and Margaret decided, the people who love them will understand and not be mad. Margaret decides Linda must be right. Now she has to decide whether return home or stay the night in the woods.

Second choice: home or woods

Margaret makes an excuse to head back to camp and home, thanking Molly and Linda for the friendship they've shown her. She returns to the present, ready to tell Bea that she's going to music camp. She knows Bea will understand, maybe not right away, but in time.

And since that was super short, here's what can happen if Margaret stays to camp overnight in the woods:

The next morning, everyone gets ready to continue the hike. Just before they set out, Margaret drops her pin! She frantically searches while Molly and Linda wait with her. She finds it, but it's taken just long enough that they're not sure whether everyone else took the uphill trail or the downhill trail (why they couldn't yell ahead for them to wait I don't know). Molly thinks they should go up; Linda down. And they have to decide fast: it's just started to pour.

Next choice: up or down

As the girls trudge uphill, Molly talks about how while she's thrilled her father is home safe, it's difficult to adjust to his being home after he was gone for three years. As they talk, Margaret thinks of a way for Molly to still be in the band. Her father suggested the fishing trip so they could spend time together; what if he helps with the band? That way Molly can do what she has her heart set on and she gets time with her dad. Suddenly, they hear something moving through the woods.

Next choice: find out what the noise is, or run

It's a cow! Margaret knows quite a bit about cows; Bea lives on a farm. She deduces that the cow is lost, and they should help guide it home. They get it to a nearby farm, and the farmer is grateful. He gives them directions back to camp, calls to let the people in charge know the girls are safe, and gives them some ice cream made from the cow's milk as thanks. Soon after, Margaret returns to the present, and goes to tell Bea that she's staying for the summer to help raise the foal.


Dedicated to Beverly Dawson and Barbara Peck Rothrock, with gratitude for [their] help.

This book seems to be set the summer after Molly Saves the Day, but Molly had already overcome her fear of drowning then. And it's definitely set after Molly Marches On; that was the first time at summer camp (possibly the same camp as Molly Saves the Day). In that one, they're not too young for the hike, Molly and Susan just get lost because Molly thinks she knows more than she does. And where is Susan, anyway? She's not even mentioned.

Margaret lives with her grandmother at a ranger station. Her parents died when she was young. The cause isn't mentioned, and it seems she was old enough that she remembers them at least a little.

The foal is named Moon Shadow.

Linda mentions V-E Day, Victory in Europe Day, the anniversary of which is tomorrow (May 8).

The first twenty-three pages are without choices, just setting up the story. But with every scene change, it's "Turn to page 4/8/13/etc." which are all just the next pages. I don't get why the editors didn't just save those directions for when the readers makes a decision and has to pick page 43 or 58, for example.

There are so many fish-related puns.

Not only did Europe have to ration more than the US during WWII, the rationing lasted for several years after while the land recovered from the fighting.

Two of the possible endings are online. If I were to buy a copy of this book (I got it from the library; I pretty much only buy the main story books) I'd print out that part in case the website is unavailable in the future or I wanted to read it somewhere without internet access.

Other possible endings: staying at camp and helping Molly practice for the swimming competition can help Molly overcome her fears about drowning and inadvertently spark some jealousy in Linda which can be resolved or run away from using time travel; staying helps Margaret get over her own jealous feelings toward her grandmother's new hired hand; admitting homesickness to Molly and Linda prompts them to show her the horses on the neighboring (no pun intended) farm which reminds her more about the decision she needs to make in the present, she either chooses raising the foal and her grandmother understands not wanting to miss out and her not being ready to be away for so long, or she chooses music camp and Bea understands and promises to send daily updates on Moon Shadow; finding a raspberry bush at camp leads to Margaret learning about rationing; running from what turns out to be a cow results in the girls being on a hilltop that Margaret recognizes, and from there she leads them to the pond the other hikers were heading to; going downhill leads to them finding an injured dog; treating its wounds and getting it unstuck leads to them waiting in one spot to be found, after which Margaret decides to stay home to raise the foal; staying with dog means they discover it belongs to a young German POW; alerting the POW guards to him teaches Margaret about responsibility and forgiveness and she decides to go to music camp, which Bea understands; letting the POW sneak back in unnoticed (in the other choice he just gets extra KP and restrictions, nothing awful) also teaches her about forgiveness and getting to know people before judging them which inspires her to be kinder to the hired hand.

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