Every year during the Christmas Holidays, I tend to reread children’s books that I loved when I was a little girl. This year, with my friend having a daughter and my favorite American Girl, Molly, being retired, I have had American Girl on my mind. While I was visiting Half Price during their big after-Christmas sale, I noticed a couple Molly books that I had never read and picked them up. I thought they would give an easy boost to my 2014 challenge of 75 books.
The first of these that I read, The Light in the Cellar by Sarah Masters Buckey, is a mystery based around Molly and her friend, Emily. Molly and Emily get a volunteer job as magazine delivery girls as part of their school’s patriotic efforts (Molly is the American Girl growing up in the Second World War). When they notice that some rationed items have gone missing around town (sugar and tires, for example), they decide that it is up to them to find out who is taking them and why.
This book, in contrast to my past experiences with American Girl books, is actually a longer chapter book. It was, as usual for American Girl, decently well written for the age group it is meant for (ages 8-10). The story deals with complex topics including the racism and ethnic fear that was prevalent during the war.
I enjoyed this trip into the world I had loved as a child. I would certainly recommend this book for any parent of young girls or boys. I would also recommend that parents read it as well in order to discuss certain topics with their children.
The second book, Brave Emily by Valerie Tripp, is a partner to the Molly series that tells the story of Molly’s friend Emily who came to live with Molly’s family all the way from London. Emily’s grandfather gave his dog tags from WWI to Emily before she left for America (a common destination for children during the war, sent away from London for their safety) and told her to be brave for England. Taking his words to heart, Emily searches for a way to be brave for England all the way in the United States. With Molly’s help, Emily finds her chance to be brave and call attention to the dire need of people like her family back in London.
I enjoyed this story as well, perhaps as much for the opportunity to learn more about my childhood favorite’s best friend as for the quality of writing. However, I would definitely recommend Brave Emily to parents of young girls as well.
The Light in the Cellar and Brave Emily continue the longstanding tradition of American Girl books teaching young girls that they are powerful and capable of making great changes in the world. The books also succeed in making a part of history more accessible to children—the original draw of the American Girl series.