Molly & Mae

Written by Danny Parker / Published by Little Hare Books in 2017

Friendship is like a train journey. 

There are happy moments, boring moments and exciting moments. 

There is anger and loneliness, and there is forgiveness, 
and the thread of friendship runs through everything, 
like rail tracks through the countryside. 

Molly and Mae is a portrait of the most delightful and emotionally rich train journey imaginable. 

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Mum found them playing with bubblegum and told them off.

Mum found them playing with bubblegum and told them off.

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Kids’ Book Review

I have to say this: I love how the brain of Danny Parker works. I love how he takes stories and designs their words in a way that defies the norm--and so utterly delights the reader.

I love how his voice is sophisticated yet nuanced in a way that's totally biased towards kids (as, of course, it should be). I love that he's not trying to write for any other reason than the clear pleasure he gets from weaving words into story. And that's also how it should be--because that's how readers so fully engage with and get so much from books. When the author creates from pure pleasure.

And oh how this shows in Molly and Mae.

I also love that Little Hare are happy to include such lines as 'waiting for a while at being hungry' and haven't 'normalised' such divine word structure. I meanthis is how kids think and speak. And this is how we should be speaking to them.

Molly and Mae is about two little girls who meet up on a train platform then take a train ride together. There's shenanigans, wonder, fun and games--then there's not. Molly thinks Mae is silly She tells her so. Mae decides she is tired of being bossed around. Molly is rude. She turns her back in Mae. And the landscape outside the train becomes grey and dull.

Then... Molly reaches out. She hides those horrid words she said and finds some new ones to build a bridge back to Mae. Together they strengthen that word-bridge until they are friends again. And together they look forward to their future together--in all its twisting train-track turns and hills and valleys.

I love the train metaphor that runs alongside this young friendship, as well as the countryside scenes that bring either colour and excitement and happy, or gloom and grey and unhappy. I love the train signage that parallels the text, too--like 'signal failure' for when Molly and Mae argue, and the 'bridge' when they reach out to each other again.

Freya Blackwood's divine illustrations lend both humour and deep emotion to the storyline. With their superb colour palette and divine sketchy construct, they enchant the eye and bring such warmth and realness to the text. This is truly a case of an author/illustrator dance that's seamless.

Clever, heartwarming, visually beautiful and strikingly penned, this is a gorgeous creation that celebrates the essence of friendshiptruth and how important it is to open our hearts, to keep moving forward and ... to not sweat the small stuff.

Review by Tania McCartney

Molly turned her back.

Molly turned her back.

To watch the adorable Heidi Arena read Molly & Mae on Story Box Library click here.

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And to read about my difficulty with colour, click here!