Molly & Mae: A Friendship Journey is a lovely, wonderful picture book in so many ways. Written by Danny Parker and illustrated by the marvelous Freya Blackwood, it shows children what friendship looks like and, possibly even better, it shows children what it looks like to have to be patient and wait. Without a device to entertain you...
Endpapers show the start and end of the day's long train journey, with the title page starting the story as Molly and her mom make their way to the platform where Mae and her mom are already waiting. As little kids do, the girls find each other and strike up a friendship. And, as little kids do, the girls crawl under and over and scoot in and around every corner of the train station as they wait to board.
Through illustrations and text, Molly & Mae follows the friends with signs in the train station and at the various stations they pass through indicating where the girls are in their "friendship journey." "Signal Failure" is the signage for the page where the girls, having grown bored and restless, have a fight and part ways. Other clever illustrations divide two-page spreads into three panels, horizontally, letting readers see more of the action, inside and out. As the train approaches a bridge, Molly, "took the words she shouldn't have said and hid them. Then she took the words she should have said and started to build a bridge." When the destination is reached, the sky is dark. The two friends, holding hands, jump off the train together.
Having worked with kids, grades 1 - 5, for three years now, I realize that we don't teach our kids what a real friendship looks like, with ups and downs, mistakes and forgiveness, bridges and destinations. And, as I said at the start of this review, a book that shows young audiences how two kids entertain themselves for hours at a time WITHOUT a device is invaluable!
I love Freya Blackwood's illustration style, which is fluid and filled with movement. With two small black dots for eyes, she manages to capture many emotions. And her kids are just so cute. Don't miss the amazing My Two Blankets, written by Irena Kobald, a poignant story of immigration from a child's perspective.
Source: Review Copy