I have been planning this post for almost a year, and now I’m so full of excited anticipation to give it to you! Meet Molly is my Very Favorite American Girl book Ever! Part of it is because it was the first AG book I ever read (well, actually my mom read it to me when I was around 8 or 9 at the doctor’s office feeling miserable and Molly took my mind off being sick). But I also completely relate to Molly and all the crazy things she went through in the book (I’ll talk more about that at the end of this super long post). I had a very hard time leaving anything out in this book, and I tried hard to match my doll photos with Nick Bate’s illustrations (I’ll also show that to you too at the end of this post). Here is the doll version of Meet Molly by Valerie Tripp.
Molly McIntire sat at the kitchen table daydreaming about her Halloween costume.
It would be a long pink float-y dress that would swish and swirl when she walked. It would be adorned with jewels that would sparkle when she moved. It was a perfect dress for Cinderella, which was who she wanted to be for Halloween. There were just a couple of problems: There was no such dress in existence which meant she’d have to talk her mother into buying the material and making it. She didn’t have any glass slippers either, And the hardest part would be to convince her friends, Linda and Susan to play the ugly stepsisters. She could probably talk Susan into it, but Linda was much more stubborn. She would rather be Snow White with her dark curly hair and make Susan and Molly be dwarfs. Probably Sleepy and Grumpy, thought Molly.
Molly felt grumpy too, as she glanced up at the clock. She had been sitting at the kitchen table for exactly two hours, forty-six minutes, and one, two, three seconds. She had been sitting at the table ever since Mrs. Gilford, the housekeeper called everyone to supper.
Molly had smelled trouble as soon as she walked into the kitchen. It smelled like dirty socks. Then she saw the orange heap on her plate, “What’s this orange stuff?” she asked.
Mrs. Gilford turned around and gave her what Molly’s father used to call the Gladys Gilford Glacial Glare, “Polite children do not refer to food as stuff,” she said, “The vegetable which you are lucky enough to have on your plate is mashed turnip.”
“I’d like to return it,” whispered Molly’s older brother, Ricky.
“What was that young man?”
“I mean, I like to eat turnips,” Ricky said as he shoveled forkfuls in his mouth to get it over with as quickly as possible.
That rat Ricky, thought Molly as she watched his disappear. She looked over to her older sister, Jill, who was eating ladylike bites of it and washing it down with many long sips of water.
Molly sighed. In the old days before Jill turned fourteen and stuck up, she could always count on her to throw a fit about such things as turnips, but now the new Jill was all grown up and acting superior. If that’s what happens when you turn fourteen, I hope I stay nine forever, thought Molly.
The turnips sat on Molly’s plate getting cold. They were turning into a solid lump that oozed water.
“There will be no such language used at this table,” said Mrs. Gilford, “Furthermore, anyone who fails to eat their turnips will not have dessert nor be allowed to leave the table.”
That’s why Molly was sitting at the kitchen table facing a plate of cold turnips at 8:46pm. None of this would have happened if Dad were home, she thought. Molly’s father was a doctor who had joined the Army when World War Two had hit American soil. Now he was somewhere in England taking care of wounded and sick soldiers. He had been gone for seven months. Molly missed him every single minute of every single day, but especially at dinner time.
Before the war, Molly’s family ate in the dining room, not the kitchen and they had dinner together. Now things were different. Molly’s mom worked for the Red Cross and often came home very late. She spent at least an hour every night writing a letter to Dad. When a letter came from Dad it was a surprise and a treat.
Everyone gathered together to listen to Mrs. McIntire read it out loud. Dad always sent a special message to each one of them, and though the letters were long and often funny, they seemed as if they came from a very far away place. It was never as though he was in the house saying, “Gosh and golly, olly Molly, what have you done today?”
Dad would always put everyone in a good mood. Even Mrs. Gilford. He would say things like, “Mrs. Gladys Gilford, an advancement has been made tonight in the art of cooking. Never before in the history of mankind has there been such a perfect post roast.” Mrs. Gilford would beam and serve more pot roast. She would never serve anything awful like turnips.
But everything was different now because of the war. Since there was no more canned food, Mrs. Gilford had started a vegetable Victory garden and they ate whatever she grew, There happened to be plenty of turnips.
As Molly stared at the turnips on her plate, she remembered Mrs. Gilford saying, “Wasting food is not only childish and selfish, it is unpatriotic.” Now it was almost nine o’clock. It was getting late and Molly was lonely and tired of thinking about how unpatriotic she was. She put a tiny forkful in her mouth. Just then, Ricky burst through the door, “How do you like eating old, cold, moldy brains?” he teased.
Molly swallowed the turnips fast then gulped down an entire glass of milk. Old, cold, moldy brains was exactly what the turnips tasted like. She could not eat a speck more.
“Ricky you rat! I’m going to get you!” She started to get out of her chair.
“Nana, nana, nana! You can’t leave the table! You haven’t finished your turnips!” Ricky chanted.
“Ricky stop it!” But Ricky was right. She was stuck. And to make matters worse, she could hear her mother walk in the door.
Now Mom will be mad at me and she’ll never make me a Cinderella dress. And then everyone in the house will be mad at me for making Mom upset. And all because of these terrible turnips.
Mrs. McIntire walked in the back door, looked at Molly, looked at the plate and knew immediately what had happened, “Well, Molly, I see we had the first turnips from the Victory garden for dinner tonight.”
“Mom, I hate turnips. I know I do. And Mrs. Gilford says I can’t leave the table until I eat them. I’ll be here until I die, because I can never eat these. Never. I really mean it.”
“I see,” said Molly’s mother, “Do you mind if I join you for a while? Not until you die, of course – I’ll just have a cup of tea. And while I’m up at the stove, how about I reheat those turnips for you? They certainly don’t look very appetizing when they’re cold like that.”
“It won’t help,” said Molly.
But Mrs. McIntire scooped up the turnips and said, “I think we can spare a little of our butter and cinnamon rations to spice these up too.”
Soon a delicious aroma filled the room. Mrs. McIntire poured herself tea and set Molly’s plate of newly revived turnips in front of her.
Molly took a deep breath and raised a bite to her lips. It wasn’t so bad. In fact, it was pretty good – sweet and cinnamon-y, like applesauce.
“When I was about your age, my mother made sardines for supper. I couldn’t eat them of course, and my mother said I couldn’t leave the table until they were gone. Gone she said. So when she wasn’t looking I wrapped them in a napkin and hid them in my pocket. I was excused but when I was playing games in the living room, our two cats climbed all over me trying to get at the sardines. Bessy actually got it out of my pocket and the two cats gobbled it up!”
“Oh, Mom!” Molly laughed.
“Oh, Molly,” sighed Mrs. McIntire, “Sometimes we have to do things whether we like it or not.”
“Everything is so different with Dad gone. Nothing is the way it used to be,” Molly said.
“The war has changed things, but some things are still the same. Isn’t Ricky still Ricky?”
“He sure is. Still dumb old Ricky.”
“And you are still my olly, Molly.”
“Thanks, Mom,” Molly stood up and gave her mother a hug. Then she went up to her room swishing her pretend Cinderella dress up the stairs.
The next day, Molly, Susan, and Linda walked home from school excited because they were going to discuss Halloween costume plans. They had decided to keep their future plans a secret so it would be a great surprise. They met Alison Hargate on their way home who asked, “What are you three going to be for Halloween?”
“We can’t tell, it’s a surprise,” said Molly.
“But it’s great,” said Linda, “It’s a really great idea.”
Susan chimed in, “Yes, we’re going to have one of the best Halloween costumes ever.”
Alison looked impressed. Molly was starting to get worried. They hadn’t even decided what they were going to be and they were already getting a lot of attention.
“What are you going to be?” Molly asked.
“Oh, probably an angel. I already have a halo, and my mom made some wings and she said I could use her white satin bath robe.”
Molly was jealous. What a great idea to be an angel! Why hadn’t she thought of that? And Alison would look especially pretty with a halo on top of her golden curls.
“Well, all I can tell you is that our plan will be more…um.. original than that,” Molly said lamely.
“Then I can’t wait to see it!” Alison said, “I’ll see you later!”
When they got to Molly’s house, they sat on the front porch in front of a big pumpkin and watched Ricky dribbling a basketball.
“Gee I think an angel is a good idea,” said Susan, “why don’t we be angels?”
“Absolutely not! We can’t steal Alison’s idea. We can think of something just as good,” said Molly.
“Like what?” said Linda.
“Well,” said Molly slowly as if she were thinking of this for the first time, “how about Cinderella and the two ug- I mean the two stepsisters?”
“You’re all step sitters today,” Ricky cut in, but they ignored him.
“Oooh,” said Susan.
“Who gets to be Cinderella?” Linda immediately asked.
“Well, we don’t have to decide that right away. We can see who’s costume is the best,” Molly answered quickly.
“My sister Gloria has an old prom dress that my mother could alter to fit me,” Susan said.
Molly decided to change her mind. Susan’s dress actually existed and she owned it, unlike Molly’s imaginary pink float-y dress, and she certainly did not want to be an ugly step- sister.
“Wait, maybe we should all be exactly the same thing, like the Three Musketeers” said Molly.
“You’d be perfect as the Three Little Pigs,” said Ricky, “or how about the Three Stooges? Or the Three Kings of Orient?”
He began to sing loudly:
“We three kings of Orient are,
Tried to smoke a rubber cigar,
It was loaded, it exploded…”
“STOP IT!” yelled Molly.
And suddenly Ricky did stop. His face turned red and he began to bounce his basketball and dribble it under his legs to show off. Jill and her new best friend, Dolores were walking up the porch steps.
Dolores was wearing an eyelet blouse and flow-y skirt. She smiled a movie star white-tooth smile.
“Hi Rich,” she said.
“Rich,” Molly snorted
“Hi, Dolores,” Ricky squeaked in a high pitch voice.
As soon as Jill and Dolores went in the house, the girls burst out laughing. Ricky-Rich had a crush on Dolores! They began to chant:
“Ricky and Dolores up in a tree,
First comes love,
Then comes marriage,
Then comes Ricky with a baby carriage!”
Ricky threw the basketball at the girls but they hopped out of the way making kissing noises.
Molly grabbed the basketball and said, “Hiiii, Do-lor-ess,” imitating Ricky and then kissing the basketball.
“Eeeeuuuuwww!” shrieked Linda and Susan.
Ricky jumped on his bike, “Your going to pay for this! You’ll be sorry!”
The girls just giggled and then got back to thinking about their Halloween costumes. Mrs. McIntire overheard them from the window and said, “I’ve got an idea for you girls. I’ll show you how to make grass skirts out of newspaper and crepe paper and you can be hula dancers.”
“That’s a great idea!” said Susan, “I know how to make flowers.”
“I think my dad might have an old ukulele that will look good,” Linda added.
“Too bad we’ll probably have to wear sweaters on top but our leis can hide them,” Susan said.
The next day Mrs. McIntire showed them how to make their hula skirts and the girls had so much fun, that Molly had completely forgotten about Ricky’s threat to make them sorry. She was too busy practicing the hula.
On Halloween, the girls got into their hula costumes and Mrs. McIntire even came down and sprayed them with her perfume.
The girls were ready to go out trick-or-treating.
“When I get back from taking Brad trick-or-treating, I’ll take a picture of all of you and send it to Dad,” Mrs. McIntire said before they left, “You too, Ricky.”
“Okay, Mom,” said Ricky the pirate.
It was windy but not too cold and Molly loved the rustling sound her skirt made as she walked.
They met Alison with her mother and went over to say hello. Her angel costume was perfect and the halo made her whole face glow.
“Hula dancers!” Alison sighed with envy when she saw them.
“Your outfit looks good too,” Molly said, “you really look like an angel.” She kind of wished Alison would come with them trick-or-treating, except Alison’s mother always went with her.
“Hawaiian hula dancers!” Mrs. Hargate said, “and homemade too, aren’t you clever!”
The girls smiled and hurried away.
“Really,” Linda said when they were out of earshot, “you almost have to feel sorry for Alison to have such an over-protective mother tagging along.”
Because of the war, most people didn’t have candy to give out, but the girls filled their paper bags with popcorn balls, apples, peanuts, doughnuts, and Tootsie Roll Pops. When their bags were totally full (except for Linda’s who believed in eating while she walked) they headed home humming a Hawaiian song Linda had learned and swishing their skirts.
They were almost to the door when a huge splash of water poured down on top of them and a hose sprayed right at them.
“AHHHH!” Molly yelled. The water flooded her feet, the force ripping open their paper bags in cold gushes. Their skirts were hanging in shreds and all their treats lay on the ground in a soggy mess. When the water finally stopped, Molly’s hair was stuck to her forhead, and her hands were full of melting flowers, “Ruined! Wrecked! Completely wrecked!” she sobbed, “Who would play such a mean trick?”
Then the girls heard Ricky singing in a low voice,
“I see London,
I see France,
I can see your underpants!”
“Ricky!,” Molly yowled, “I’ll get you for this! You ruined everything! You’ll be sorry- you wait! You’ll be really sorry!”
Ricky threw the hose down and ran off.
The girls just stood in the driveway stunned with surprise and anger. Maybe they shouldn’t have teased Ricky about Dolores, but who would have ever thought he’d get back at them with such a dirty, mean trick?
Finally Linda said, “I’m freezing.”
“You two go inside,” Molly said, “I’ll clean up this mess. Then we have some planning to do.
We have to teach Ricky a lesson he’ll never forget.”
After all the girls had a warm bath and changed into their pajamas, they gathered in the kitchen for a glass of milk. Ricky was still in his costume and Mrs. McIntire had just come home. They agreed not to tell Mrs. McIntire because they wanted to ‘take care of Ricky themselves.’
“Well girls, how was your Hawaiian Halloween?” Mrs. McIntire asked.
“Fine,” the girls all answered although they didn’t sound convincing.
Mrs. McIntire looked puzzled, “just ‘fine’? That’s all? And why did you change into pajamas? I wanted to take a picture to send to Dad?”
“They got wet,” Molly answered.
The girls looked at each other.
“By a hose, Ricky…” Susan began.
“We walked into a hose by mistake,” Molly said before Susan could finish.
“Who would be using a hose on a windy Halloween night?”
“Just someone,” Molly said.
“Molly McIntire,” Mrs. McIntire frowned, “I believe you are not telling me the whole story.”
She turned to Ricky who was about to get up, “Perhaps you can tell me what happened.”
“Me?” squeaked Ricky, “Well, it was a joke, Mom. You know, a Halloween trick or treat?”
“A mean trick,” muttered Linda.
“What did you do?” asked Mrs. McIntire, glaring at Ricky.
“I just got a little water on their costumes,” he answered.
“A little water?” Molly squealed, “You dumped buckets and buckets on us! You ruined our costumes and a treats!
“You squirted us with a hose!” Susan accused.
“Is that true?” Mrs. McIntire asked.
“Ricky, that was a very mean thing to do. I’m sure if your father found out about it he would be ashamed. I am going to have to punish you; you are to apologize to these girls and give your bag of treats to them to share. You can only keep one treat for yourself. Do this now while I put Brad to bed.”
“Sorry,” Ricky muttered as he shoved his bag toward the girls.
As the girls trudged up to bed, Linda whispered, “You were right, Molly. Your mom was way to easy on him.”
“Yeah, except for the part about your father being ashamed,” Susan added.
“He wrecked our Halloween and he’s hardly paying for it at all!” Linda said.
“Well,” said Molly, “We’ll just have to think up a plan to make Ricky really suffer.”
“We could pretend we’re his teacher and call him on the phone and say he has to stay after school for his bad grades,” Susan said.
“No, it’s no good,” Molly said, “It doesn’t embarass him in front of a bunch of people. We need to embarass him in front of someone he shows off for…
“Like Dolores!” Linda said.
“Yes! That’s it! Embarrass him in front of Dolores.”
“But how?” Susan asked.
The girls were quiet. Molly was still so mad. She could still hear Ricky’s taunt ringing in her ears chanting,
I see London,
I see France,
I can see your underpants.
“I think I have a plan,” Molly said,
“But we’re all going to need to cooperate or it won’t work.”
The next morning was Saturday and Susan started Molly’s plan right after breakfast.
She came up to Mrs. McIntire and asked for two paper bags, “We need them to hold our Halloween treats.”
Linda had a harder job to do. She had to keep Ricky out of his room for a while, “Can I watch you shoot baskets? I want to learn how to play.”
“Girls can’t play basketball,” was the rude answer from Ricky.
“Ricky! What an unfriendly thing to say! You march outside and show Linda how to do it like the gentleman you’re supposed to be.”
When Molly and Susan saw Ricky and Linda go outside they flung themselves into Ricky’s room and grabbed the hamper of dirty socks and underwear and crammed them into their bags. Then Molly turned to Susan, “Okay, go on.”
“I can’t do it,” Susan hissed, “I’m too scared. And it’s lying.”
“You have to do it,” Molly said, “Just cross your fingers, then it’s not a lie.”
So Susan entered Jill’s room where she and Dolores were practicing dance moves for the party they were going to go to that night.
“What do you want?” Jill asked.
“Well, I thought you’d like to know that Russ Campbell is at the corner in his car. He told me to tell you and ask you if you wanted to go for a ride with him.”
“Russ Campbell!?” Jill and Dolores shrieked.
Russ Campbell was the senior football star and the most popular guy in their high school.
“How do I look?” Jill asked in a panic.
“You look fine,” said Dolores, “it’s a good thing we curled our hair last night.”
“Let’s go quick before he changes his mind!” The two raced down the stairs and out the door.
Seconds later, Molly and Susan leaned way out the door and dumped the big bags upside down. Underwear, socks and dirty t-shirts fell like snowflakes. Dirty underwear landed on Dolores’ head, “What’s this?” asked Dolores in disgust.
Molly, Susan, and Linda chanted,
“I see London,
I see France,
Those are Ricky’s underpants!”
“RICKY!” screeched Jill, “That’s revolting! And I suppose that business about Russ Campbell was all part of the joke too. You are so childish!”
“But I didn’t!” Ricky wailed.
“Here Ricky,” Dolores handed him the dirty underpants, “I believe these cute little underpants belong to you.”
Jill and Dolores looked at each other and burst out laughing.
Finally Dolores gasped, “Come on, Jill, let’s go to my house where we won’t be showered by some little kid’s underwear.”
As Jill and Dolores started to walk away Molly called out, “There’s YOUR Halloween trick or treat, Ricky!”
“I’ll get you!” Ricky yelled back, “You’ll be sorry! This is war! This is really war! I’ll-”
Suddenly Ricky, Jill and Dolores all stopped and Molly and Susan leaned out to see why. Mrs. McIntire had come home for lunch.
Uh oh,” Susan whispered.
“I want everyone who is in front of me to get in the kitchen right now!” Mrs. McIntire said.
In seconds everyone was standing around the kitchen table. Molly’s legs were shaking. No one said anything. Then Mrs. McIntire began to speak.
“Until there are no more tricks in this house, there will be no more treats.
Ricky, you will not go to the movies. You will stay here and rake the backyard. Make sure you clean up every bit of the Halloween mess you made too.
Linda, Molly, and Susan, you will spend the day doing Ricky’s laundry. I want everything washed and hung out to dry. Jill and Dolores, you will look after Brad.
I suppose these tricks you have been playing on each other don’t seem very serious to you, but they are mean, and childish, and wasteful. I’m disappointed in you and more than that, I’m sad and discouraged. If we can’t get along together, who can? This fighting has to stop. This is exactly what starts wars – this meanness, anger and revenge. Two sides decide to get even and then everyone gets hurt. There’s enough fighting in this world already and I won’t have any more of it in this house. Is that understood?”
Everybody mumbled, “Yes.”
“Give me your, uh, things,” said Molly after Mrs. McIntire had put them to work.
“Here,” said Ricky, “I think that’s all of them.”
“Okay, listen, we didn’t – I mean, we didn’t want to keep fighting with you exactly.
We were just mad. We wanted to embarrass you. We shouldn’t have done it. I’m sorry. I really am.”
“It’s okay,” said Ricky, “I guess I deserved it. Your trick was mean, but you know, it was funny, too,” he laughed, “I’m kind of glad not to be fighting against you any more. You three have pretty good ideas, even if you are a bunch of triple dips.”
Molly smiled, “Thanks, Ricky.”
It wasn’t so bad doing Ricky’s laundry. In a way, Molly got to be Cinderella for Halloween after all, because the girls pretended they were Cinderellas before the ball. And later, Mrs. McIntire even came in to help them.
When she learned that Molly and Ricky had apologized to each other she smiled down at Molly and Molly turned to give her a hug.
Her mother was right: it was much better when there was no fighting.
Molly and Emily played themselves.
Mrs. McIntire…………………………………Carlie Cullen
Alison Hargate………………………………………….Caroline Abbott
Mrs. Hargate……………………………………………..Jessica Gotz
Mrs. Gilford………………………………………………Lily Gotz
As a child in my household our punishment for refusing to eat was not sitting in a chair until it was gone (that was saved for if you didn’t practice violin. Both my sister and I play violin, and one time my sister refused to practice and she sat in the kitchen chair for 7 hours!! Her hair was a rat’s nest because that was the only thing she could play with besides the cats if they happened to walk by!). Instead, whatever we refused to eat became our next meal. If we kept refusing to eat it, we would starve. My problem was soggy bread. Even to this day I rarely eat sandwiches because I can’t stand soggy bread. For school I would have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and of course by the time lunch came, the middle of the sandwich would have been soggily laden with jelly. I would eat everything except the middle of the sandwich and since it had been imparted to us that it was a Great Sin to waste food and even Greater Sin to lie, I would leave the middle part of the sandwich for my parents to discover and then I would find it on my dinner plate for supper. I remember gagging many times to try and get those two bites of sogginess down my throat.
Another way I relate to Molly is getting revenge on a sibling. I have one younger sister, Hillary, and I will never forget the day I got my very first Skipper doll for my birthday. She had beautiful blond hair and blue eyes and she was dressed in a band suit and could twirl a baton all by herself. The very next day, my sister decided to trespass into my room, take my new Skipper doll and comb her hair. Even to this day Hillary is a very strong girl, and she combed the dolls hair so hard her head came off. She came crying to my mom in the kitchen (where I also happened to be) carrying my beautiful, but now decapitated doll in her hands. My mom decided that Hillary didn’t mean to do such a thing to my doll so she did not give her ANY PUNNISHMENT AT ALL!!! I was so mad I wanted to MURDER her! I contemplated combing Hillary’s hair until her head fell off…..
Yeah, that didn’t happen. My grandpa tried to ‘fix’ Skipper by shoving her head back on so hard I couldn’t move her head and she had no neck. I still have that Skipper doll, somewhere packed away in a suitcase. She’s now a fond memory.
Thanks SO much for reading such a long post! I know it’s long but I enjoyed writing every word and posting every picture. One of the hardest parts to photograph was the hose scene. I really wanted to do what Emily from She’ll Go Down in Herstory did in this blog post but I don’t have a husband to hold a hose for me. Instead, I held two spray bottles (one wasn’t enough) and held them in front of the dolls. Then I sprayed McKenna’s hair and Molly’s glasses to make them look wet.
Another tricky scene was Ricky’s underwear. I wanted to do it at a real window and our front porch was the perfect height for dolls, but I had to make sure my four cats didn’t decided to follow the dolls and come out the window too! I had a brilliant idea to ring the doorbell (it tells the cats a scary stranger is coming in and they should hide in the basement) and take quick pics of the dolls before the cats realized no one was at the door.
If you are still reading this post, you have my admiration for sticking with me for so long, I thought it would be fun to leave you with some side by side pics of my doll photos against Nick Bate’s illustrations in the books. These are pictures of my trading cards so I apologize if they are blurry.
Molly’s turnips are actually upside down macaroni and cheese! I was too lazy to make turnips.
Mrs. McIntire: Brad, aren’t you a little too big to be sitting on my lap?
I guess I should have had then switch places.
My dolls refused to hold books.
The ukulele is half cut out in this pic.
This one’s actually a blooper – you can see my squirt bottles!
I totally forgot to add Brad in this!