Molly’s Pilgrim

Walking with Cake: Molly's Pilgrim

(Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen.)

On Wednesday mornings, Rhys and I like to stop by James’ school to visit the library.  With my parent account, we can check out three books at a time, and I usually let Rhys select them, which he does in record time when he has the space to himself. He’s become a pro at checking in and checking out the books, and he loves using the little scanner to hear that satisfying beep.

Last week, I asked the librarian if she had a copy of Molly’s Pilgrim, a book I loved when I was in elementary school. She found it right away, and so I’ve been reading it to James this week. Molly’s Pilgrim, written by Barbara Cohen, is a sweet, if idealized, story of a young Russian girl spending her first Thanksgiving in the United States. As a child, I loved the short film adaptation, which earned an Academy Award in 1986. The film is dated now, but I would still love to find a copy for old times’ sake.

The book itself is sweet and simple, and set in a much earlier time. Molly, the main character, is adapting to her new life and school as the other children make fun of her accent. For a Thanksgiving lesson, Molly must make a pilgrim doll, and her mother offers to help her with the project. When Molly wakes up the next morning, she’s disappointed to discover that the doll looks nothing like the pilgrims in her school book, but is dressed like a picture of her mother as a young girl. With the help of her mother and her kind teacher, Molly eventually comes to understand that there are all kinds of pilgrims, and she impresses the class with her doll. It’s a touching story, and it’s always left an impression on me. Even now, I can’t help but tear up as I read it to James.

It was fun to share a small memory from my childhood with my young son, and I’m hoping to locate a copy of the film soon, too. Did you read Molly’s Pilgrim or see the short movie as a child?

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