Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow

Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2020. 9780399260025

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

 Genre: Picture book

 What did you like about the book? “Molly Lou Melon was a tiny little girl with a big, deep-down heart.”  So begins the latest tale of the spunky, self-confident heroine, who tries to do the right thing and be kind to all, sprinkled with admonitions from her mother about being responsible and accepting, and helpful to others.  Molly Lou’s patience is tested at school when mean Bettina Bonklehead teases her and her friends, and leaves Molly Lou a big mess to clean up after a project.   When a new boy arrives at school, Bettina picks on him too.  Molly stays patient and kind, and even teaches the new boy her secret handshake.  Things come to a head when Molly goes nose-to-nose with Bettina after a tripping incident at summer camp, which is quickly resolved with a group hug, and a reminder that “If you want to be a friend, it’s all up to you!”

This really is two different books in one.  The first half is more of an introduction to Molly Lou Melon, describing her character and depicting her home life with a multitude of pets with whom she regularly engages in hijinks.  Her mother gives her advice, and then each piece of advice comes into play in the second portion of the book which is the story at school in which she is a good friend to all, accepts responsibility when she makes a mistake, and stands up to a bully by speaking up for her friend.  Catrow’s standard whimsical illustration style will doubtless inspire a great deal of conversation as much more is shown in the pictures than is told in the text.

Anything you did not like about the book? The ending was just a little too pat – young readers would probably enjoy hearing more of the story of Molly Lou and Bettina than spend 12 pages learning about Molly’s character traits.

 To whom would you recommend this book?  Fans of previous Molly Lou Melon books will appreciate this new entry, and teachers and parents looking for books to help with mild bullying situations or to work on self-confidence with kids in 1st-3rd grade should add it to their collection.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Picture books

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  no

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: 11/20/2020

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