About the Holiday
Today’s holiday celebrates the joy of going for a ride to explore the unknown, revisit a favorite place, or spend time with friends or family. Whether you choose to go by bike, car, train, or plane, getting away can broaden your horizons and provide a much-needed dose of relaxation. November 22, coming close to the holiday season and commemorating several vehicle-related patents, is the perfect opportunity to go for that ride you’ve been wanting to take. Children, especially, love the excitement of and benefit from the new experience of travel.
Molly & Mae: A Friendship Journey
Written by Danny Parker | Illustrated by Freya Blackwood
Waiting on the platform at the little train station, “Molly found Mae beneath a bench” then “Mae found Molly in the newspaper shop.” They spent their coins in the bubblegum machine and sat on a bench blowing big pink bubbles. “After that, Molly and Mae were stuck.” To pass the time they took pictures in the photo booth, walked a tightrope line on the floor, twirled like ballerinas, shared sherbet and secrets, and vowed to be friends forever.
On the train they played with their dolls, got hungry, bounced on the seats and hung from the backs, skipped up the aisle, crawled under the seats, lounged in the seats, and played I Spy. But then Molly and Mae had an argument. Molly thought her younger friend was “silly,” and “Mae was tired of being bossed around.” They sat in silence watching the rain splatter the windows and the gray, misty world pass by.
“Drawing on the glass, Molly and Mae missed each other.” Molly glanced at Mae and snuck under the seat and peeked at Mae. “Then she took the words she should have said and started to build a bridge.” Mae apologized and explained too “until the bridge was strong enough to hold them both.” As the train traveled on, the sky cleared and the girls saw hills, lakes, and bridges and zipped through dark tunnels. At night they watched the twinkling stars as the train passed through crossings in small towns until it reached their destination. Molly and Mae packed up their things and jumped onto the platform holding hands. Then they left the station together.
Danny Parker wonderfully captures the capacity for children to form deeply felt friendships that may only last a day or, under the right circumstances, can last a lifetime. As Molly and Mae bond over their common boredom in waiting for the train, they enjoy common jokes, treats, and games. But as the day wears on, they become short with each other, and their friendship is threatened. Molly’s willingness to apologize, and Mae’s eager reciprocation are welcome examples of how to mend hurt feelings. Parker’s simple, yet lyrical storytelling allows children to read between the lines and fill in their own similar experiences that makes Molly and Mae a beautiful universal story about the journey of life.
Freya Blackwood’s lovely illustrations give readers so much to see and talk about as Molly and Mae meet and spend the day together in the station and on the train. Rendered in quiet sepia tones, the images of the train station and the interior of the train cars could depict any trains anywhere in the world. The girls, in their colorful clothing and horsing around with the excitement of the journey and a new-found playmate, are the focal point of each spread. When their argument occurs, the pastel green fields and blue sky out the windows turn grey as rain pours down.
As Molly and Mae find words to rebuild their friendship, the train traverses a stone bridge, and as the girls make up, the sky once again turns sunny. Clever split pages give cut-away views of the train’s interior on top and bottom while the progress of the trip is shown in the middle, and the rectangular shape of the book allows for long two-page spreads that mirror the length of the train and also, perhaps, the long future friendship to come.
Molly and Mae: A Friendship Journey is a gorgeous quiet book for reflective children. With its detailed illustrations, it is also a wonderful book to share before a train trip or to take along on the journey.
Ages 4 – 7
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-1328715432
Discover more about Danny Parker and his books on his website
To learn more about Freya Blackwood, her art, and her books, visit her website
Go for a Ride Day Activity
Let’s Go for a Ride! Word Search Puzzle
Picture Book Review