Thursday, December 6, 2012

Molly's Surprise: a Christmas Story by Valerie Tripp

Original Version
 Back on 2010, I listed Molly's Surprise along with some other Christmas books that are set during World War II, so I thought I would give it a proper review this year.  As you probably already know, the Molly in the title is Molly McIntire, a 9 year old girl living in the Midwest in 1944.

In Molly's Surprise, the holiday's are approaching, it appears it will be a real austerity Christmas for the McIntires, along with the rest of the country.  There will be no real treats because sugar and butter are rationed, no real toys because all metals and paper are going towards the war effort and no Dad, because he is an army doctor and stationed somewhere in England taking care of wounded soldiers.

Molly doesn't mind that their gifts will be practical, she just wants surprises because that is what the McIntires are known for - lots of Christmas surprises.  And she is absolutely sure her Dad will be sending them surprise presents from England.  She just knows he wouldn't let Christmas go by without any of his wonderful surprises.  But then, the always practical Jill, Molly's older sister, reminds her: "This Christmas is different...This is wartime.  There just won't be any wonderful surprises this year.  We have to be realistic." (pg 7)

But soon, there is one surprise and it isn't good. Her grandparents, who were supposed to bring a Christmas tree from their farm, have to cancel their plans.  Their car has a flat tire and rubber has gone the way of everything else for the war effort and they have to wait to get it repaired.

No dad, no grandparents, no tree, no presents - this was not shaping up to be a very Merry Christmas for Molly.

But then more surprises start to happen and they are good.  First,  Jill announces that she is willing to use her babysitting money to buy a tree.  So, Molly and brother Rickey both contribute what they have and the girls go off to find a nice Christmas tree.

Next surprise is a beautiful blanket of snow just in time for a perfect white Christmas.  And in that snow is a third surprise.  One that Molly and Jill decide to hide until Christmas morning.

Is is possible that in the season of perpetual hope the third surprise could be presents from Dad?  Well, maybe and maybe more than just that.

New Addition
Molly's Surprise is the second book in the American Girl series of books about Molly.  It is a historically correct, historically interesting story.  It demonstrates the sacrifices, the forgoing of so many things for the sake of the war effort.  Presents and sweets are much easier to give up, but not having a parent home during the holidays is hard for Molly, like it was for most kids who had a parent in the Armed Services in World War II and just as it is for those kids who have a deployed parent today.  Molly misses her Dad all the time, but especially at Christmas.

I've always liked the books about the historical figures that are part of the American Girl brand.  They do so much towards introducing girls to what it was like to be a girl at a pivotal time in history.  The stories are accurate, detailed and interesting enough to hold girls attention and make them want to find out more.  Aside from the six books in the Molly series, my Kiddo also read Molly mysteries, and a few other nice short stories that were produced, not just about Molly, but about the other historical dolls as well.  The good news is that they are still easy and affordable to find or to simply borrow from the library.

And to insure a high quality to the books, they are all written by excellent authors that you probably already know.  In the case of the Molly books, the author is Valerie Tripp.

Oh, and the books make nice stocking stuffers.  I know Santa stuffed an American Girl book more than once in my Kiddo's stocking.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was purchased for my Kiddos personal library.


  1. Thanks for the recommendation. This is the exact type of books I'd like my kids to read. Fun, exciting, historically accurate and gives a different perspective.

  2. And your daughter should be just about ready for these books.