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MOLLY AND MAE by Danny Parker


A Friendship Journey

by Danny Parker ; illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-328-71543-2
Publisher: HMH Books

A friendship is formed, nearly lost, and re-established on a long train journey.

When blonde Molly and brunette Mae, both white, meet on the platform of a railroad station, they immediately connect. They play hide-and-seek, blow bubbles, and dance. When they board the train, they continue to play, sometimes getting rambunctious and annoying other passengers. All that closeness inevitably leads to conflict, and they turn away from each other as the train zooms through the timeless, vast, rural countryside. They cautiously restart the friendly atmosphere and enjoy the remainder of the trip together. Through all the action the girls’ moms (also both white) are vague and passive, barely visible. Energetic language in the form of clipped, action-filled sentences announce the children’s activities, and Parker further enhances the simple tale with lovely descriptions of the sights outside the train’s windows. The inventive format uses railway-signage iconography to situate readers as the book progresses, beginning on the platform of their starting point. There's a timetable of the girls’ games until boarding, and their argument is denoted as a signal failure. The illustrations employ windows and bridges—literal and figurative—as visual metaphors, keeping a comfortable rhythm until the girls reach their unnamed city destination. Blackwood’s softly hued illustrations, outlined in feathery, light-brown lines, fully illuminate the events with details only suggested in the text. Molly and Mae display every emotion with subtle changes of expression and body language.

Lively and lovely.

(Picture book. 4-8)