Molly and the Shipwreck
Malachy Doyle and Andrew Whitson
Young islander Molly and her family star in their fifth story and once again it’s full of caring and community spirit.
It begins with Molly’s mother receiving a letter from Molly’s teacher saying that the island school might be closed down unless more children can be found. Molly’s attempts to persuade some of the island’s visitors to move there and add to the pupil role meet with no success.
Then some weeks later Molly and her father are out fishing when they come across a rickety boat in trouble. They manage to rescue those on board – a mother and three children, one just a baby and Molly’s family and the other islanders do their best to make them all feel welcome, fixing up one of the empty cottages to house them.
Molly is keen to enrol Amina, who is about her own age, and her little brother Bo, in the island school and hopes are raised about the increased numbers.
However, not long after an official from the mainland arrives saying he’s come to collect the new arrivals to take them to the camp but giving them some hope that after a while perhaps they could return to the island. So Amina and her family have to go.
Molly and Amina keep in touch over the summer and Molly tells her new friend that she’s watching out each day for Amina’s dad. also making that dangerous journey his family have made.
Will Amina ever be reunited with her father and will the authorities allow the family to return to the island?
With an emphasis on compassion, kindness and hope, in a way that will be understood by young children, author Malachy Doyle and illustrator Andrew Whitson present an important topic that seems to have moved to the back of many people’s consciousness. With Andrew’s dramatic scenes, and Malachy’s warm words, let’s hope that this book will help bring it to the forefront once again.
Rita Wants a Witch
Máire Zepf and Mr Ando
Rita is a small girl with a very big imagination and she uses it to ponder the possibilities of having a witch in the family. The witch she desires is of the wild sort and thus, instead of sending her off to bed she’d allow the child to whizz around all night on a broomstick; no household chores would be required, only her assistance with spell brewing. But said witch would never ever do mean spells, only ones like this –
she’d never give her bad dreams or scare off her pals.
What though if on the other hand, this witch turned out to be inept at tending to a poorly Rita, a meanie who wanted her apprentice to follow her unpleasant example, and whose cooking was decidedly unappetising.
There’s absolutely no knowing what might transpire if such a witch came into Rita’s life.
Better perhaps to have another think, toss out those notions of magic potions and settle for something much safer …
In addition to being a fun book for sharing with foundation stage children around Halloween time, this is a story with a maternal theme that shows just how much mums really do for their little ones. The vividness of Rita’s imagination that emerges in Máire Zepf’s first person narrative is mirrored in Mr Ando, aka Andrew Whitson’s humorous, sometimes mock scary scenes of witchy prospects for which he uses suitably bright garish hues.
Molly and the Lockdown
Malachy Doyle and Andrew Whitson
Molly and her mum and dad are island dwellers only now Dad is stuck on the mainland because the island – like many other parts of the world – is in lockdown. Inevitably Molly misses her dad who is staying with her Uncle Ed, though she talks to him on the phone and promises to do everything she can to help her mum.
Despite all the precautions taken, the virus reaches the island making a few people so sick they have to be taken to the mainland hospital.
With her mum assisting Nurse Ellen, there’s plenty to keep Molly busy. She does almost all the jobs around the house, cares for the dog and the hens, and makes masks for the islanders.
The lockdown drags on. School is closed so Molly chats with her friends on the phone, reads and rereads her books, does her jigsaws super fast, improves her fiddle playing and hears her Uncle Ed’s bagpipes in the background whenever her Dad rings.
Eventually school reopens, albeit with precautionary measures in place, they hear good news about a vaccine
and finally, everybody goes down to the harbour to welcome home Molly’s father – hurrah!
Most of us have experienced a spirit of community during the last year: this is encapsulated in Malachy Doyle’s story of the lockdown, COVID 19 and the affects on a particular family and their small community. Molly’s anxiousness and concern – feelings that so many children have suffered – comes across clearly in Andrew Whitson’s, richly patterned illustrations. So too does the wonderful warmth of the islanders coping as best they can with the crisis.
An ideal book for sharing with children as we begin to emerge from the restrictions; it offers a great opportunity for them to talk of their own experiences and to share future hopes.
Molly and the Whale
Malachy Doyle and Andrew Whitson
Following a stormy night, Molly and Dylan go down to the seashore in search of interesting items that might have been washed up. What they find however is not what they’d been anticipating.
“Daddy! Daddy! … There’s an enormous whale on the beach!” comes Molly’s cry.
Loading up the barrow with buckets and spades, the father and children head for the beach again where it’s now low tide.
There, with the help of their friends, Molly and Dylan keep the whale’s skin cool and her dad digs a trench around the huge creature.
Then they wait the long wait for the tide to come in, which they hope, will be sufficiently high to enable the whale to free itself and swim away. Molly sings to the massive creature in an effort to calm her own nerves although her heartfelt song cannot cool the increasingly unhappy whale.
Disappointment comes when the high tide proves insufficiently deep to enable the creature to swim off.
Molly is distraught: her father sends her home promising to wait on the beach for the full moon tide. Perhaps that will be higher … and happily, so it proves.
This is the second story to feature island-dwelling Molly, her family and friends. I quickly found myself drawn to the young girl, her empathy with the whale and her determination to save it.
I’m sure young listeners will be too as they hear Malachy’s tale and see Andrew Whitson’s quirky, richly coloured, patterned illustrations of teamwork set against beautiful sea and landscapes .