Okay, all, I may have a new favorite book about cooperation and conflict resolution: Molly and Mae: A Friendship Journey by Danny Parker, illustrated by Freya Blackwood. This book, published in 2016 (first published in the United States in 2017), was a new-to-me book that I discovered when making our teamwork and cooperation booklist for our March Family Focus. While I generally try to check books out from the library or flip through them at our local bookstore in order to decide if I want to buy it for our home library, I broke my own rule with this one. It looked so good online and wasn’t available for me to see in person anywhere, so I bit the bullet and bought a copy… And I am so glad that we own this one! Read on to see what makes Molly and Mae such a delightful addition to our collection!
Beautifully illustrated and lyrically written, Molly and Mae is a story of an unexpected friendship that experiences realistic conflict and heartfelt resolution that happens in relationships. Molly and Mae meet each other at a train station, waiting to board their train, and the two become fast friends. They wait together, play together, explore together, board the train together, sit together… Until, out of nowhere, their friendship takes a turn (as friendships can in real life). Molly thinks Mae is being silly, Mae thinks Molly is being bossy, and hurtful words are exchanged.
This is real life! This is how friendships go with small children (or bigger children… or adults at times!). Moods hit, behaviors swing, fatigue hits hard, and conflict arises. It happens, and I love the matter-of-fact way that Parker brings it to life in Molly and Mae. But, what I love even more than Parker’s realistic portrayal of this valley in the girls’ friendship journey is how they resolve the conflict and Parker’s language around how they do so. Rather than they “say sorry,” Parker has Molly take “the words she shouldn’t have said and hit them.” Rather than ask for forgiveness, she “took the words she should have said and started to build a bridge.” What a beautiful way to teach children to resolve issues with friends, bumps in teamwork, trouble in cooperation.
Friendships and relationships are indeed journeys. Journeys full of “hills and valleys, bends and straight runs, bridges and tunnels,” just like Molly’s and Mae’s train ride, and just like their friendship. It takes intentional effort to make it around those bends and out of those valleys, but Molly and Mae provide children and adults with a terrific model for how to do so!
And, Freya Blackwood’s gorgeous illustrations deserve some attention too! I always love when a story officially starts with illustrations in the endpages, inital pages, and title pages, before the text of the story starts, and Blackwood has done just this in Molly and Mae. Be sure that you spend some time in these oft-looked-over pages, as they’re integral to the story here, too. And how beautiful are those endpages???
If you liked this, check out:
- Fantastic Reads to Build Teamwork and Cooperation Skills
- Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour, illustrated by Daniel Egnéus
- Garcia and Colette Go Exploring by Hannah Barnaby, illustrated by Andrew Joyner
- Maple and Willow Together by Lori Nichols
- The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania Al Abdullah and Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Tricia Tusa
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