Monday, April 16, 2012

Molly - Just for Fun: The Make it, Play It, Solve It Book of Fun

My 9 going on 10 year old niece L'naya was visiting me this past spring break.  She has always spent her school vacations with me and one of the things she really enjoys is playing with my daughter's American Girl doll Molly (which is now 9 going on 21.)

Before L'naya arrived, I had gone to a bookstore to see if there were any new Molly books that we didn't already own.  I bought one called Molly Just for Fun and put it away for a rainy day while my niece was visiting.  Well, weather being what it has become lately, we never saw a single raindrop, so I just gave it to her.

Molly Just for Fun is exactly what it is described as: a make-it, play-it, solve-it book of fun - in other words, an activity book.  I thought that since L'naya was learning about World War II and the Holocaust this year in school, it might be fun to see what kinds of things kids did back them.

I was wrong!

Molly Just for Fun is basically an expensive book, $12.95, of do-once-then-become-bored activities.  The first activity is called Sticker Sudoku.  You solve the puzzle using pictures from Molly's 1940s life instead of numbers.  And I am pretty sure that no one had even heard of Sudoku back then.  L'naya did like learning how to make a secret code, but I could have shown her that - I learned this particular method when I was a kid.  Very few of the activities call for a child to use their imagination or involve any of the arts and crafts projects kids usually enjoy so much.

So I am sorry to say, I would not recommend Molly Just for Fun.  Much better is Molly's Cookbook: A Peek at Dining in the Past with Meals You Can Cook Today.  This is an old 1994 edition that belonged to my daughter when she was young and was published by The Pleasant Company.  

Molly's Cookbook really does teach kids about food during the war when shortages and rationing made life so very difficult.   And there lots of fun recipes like Volcano Potatoes and Deviled Eggs, both of which we have often enjoyed.

Molly's Cookbook is not to be confused with Molly's Cooking Studio, a newer, more high priced book published after The Pleasant Company was sold to Mattel.  And even though Molly's Cookbook is not longer published, it is easily available online, sometimes as low as 25¢.  This is a wonderful book for adults and kids to work together in the kitchen.  Kids learn not just about food in the war, but also how to prepare simple but tasty food and basic kitchen safety.

In my house the all-time favorite recipe in Molly's Cookbook is a breakfast dish called Toad in the Hole which I learned how to make in Girl Scouts when we called them Sunshine Eggs.


Non-Fiction Monday is hosted this week by The Nonfiction Detectives


  1. I grew up with American Girl, so I have many fond memories of the company. However, I feel like the sell-out to Mattel has really changed things. It's just not the same anymore. They've even discontinuted some of the best historical dolls. Now it's less about learning history and more about just getting tween girls to want more stuff. Anyway, I digress. We have that Molly cookbook (and my little sister has the activity book you mentioned!). I agree about the cookbook; it's a really fun look at life back then. My favorite recipe in it is the Victory Garden Soup.

  2. Thank you for an honest review of Molly Just For Fun. Even more thankful for sharing Molly's Cookbook. Sounds like a fun recipe book. Would love to try the recipes when I'm able to find this book in our library. Thanks for sharing! :)

  3. Audrey, I could agree with you more about the way American Girl is losing sight of its purpose. I thought the historical dolls were a great idea, but I guess Mattel things money is a better one. I like the Victory Garden Soup, too.

    Fats Suela, Molly's Cookbook is really a lot of fun, so I hope you can find the book somewhere.

  4. Alex, I don't know the Molly books, but one sentence in your review triggered a war memory of my own: As a small child in wartime Wales, I remember well the time when the evacuees from the London bombs arrived in my small valley town. My father was away in the army and my mother took in to our little terraced house a young mother with a baby. It must have been very strange for her, a real Londoner in this Welsh setting. She couldn't cook much at all, and my mother tried to teach her, but the one thing this young woman could make was Toad in the Hole. She taught my mother how to make this, and we as children thought it was absolutely wonderful -- an exotic London dish with an exotic name (actually, as I remember, sausage in batter!) Thank you for bringing back this memory.

  5. My girls love Toads in a Hole. (Sometimes I think they request it just so they can say it!) It gets requested at least once a week.

    We have, so far, avoided the American Girl obsession, which is just as well. I tend to be leery of their full-scale marketing campaign.