Although I can recall seeing The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook in the Sonlight catalog as a read-aloud for the youngest students, it was Melissa Wiley’s mention of the girl with the funny name (first here and then here) that finally prompted me to pull Milly-Molly-Mandy Again by Joyce Lankester Brisley off the library shelf and bring it home. Since this was our very first time to meet Milly-Molly-Mandy I would’ve preferred to read the first book (The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook, again, I think), but Milly-Molly-Mand Again is the only book I could find. According to Wikipedia (not the most reliable of sources, I know, but it’s the best I can come up with in short order), Joyce Lankester Brisley wrote these stories for The Christian Science Monitor, so I figure that the collection we read isn’t much different in style or substance from the first volume, even though it was published some twenty years later. These books are really just collections of short stories, all with the same characters and the same setting, so they’re perfect as read-alouds for the youngest of listeners.
First of all, let me explain the name for the uninitiated. Milly-Molly-Mandy is one little girl whose given name happens to be Millicent Margaret Amanda. Yeah. Although this might be a little far-fetched (then again, when I think about some of the names I’ve heard of. . . maybe not!), I think it’s pure genius to give a little girl in a story a nickname that is so much fun to say: Milly-Molly-Mandy! Milly-Molly-Mandy lives with her parents, grandparents, and an uncle and aunt in ” the nice white cottage with the thatched roof” in the Village. She has friends, most notable among them little-friend Susan and Billy Blunt, and she has a dog named Toby. In Milly-Molly-Mandy Again, she gets a new dress and in the process makes a new friend; she and Billy Blunt find a train car in the woods (which, of course, reminded me of something else we’ve read); she grows a “surprise plant”; she is an attendant in the blacksmith’s wedding; she opposes a gang of boys and forms her own gang-of-good-deed-doers; and she goes sledging. Each of these stories is fifteen pages or less (and our library copy of the book is small, so there’s not too much text on a page), so it is quite easy to finish a story or two in one session.
If you’ll notice, the author attribution on the front of the book is a little different than most: “Told and drawn by Joyce Lankester Brisley.” I like that. In fact, I would say that in terms of talent, Joyce Lankester Brisley was every bit as accomplished as an illustrator as she was a writer. The black and white drawings scattered liberally throughout the text or charming and old-fashioned, the perfect accompaniment for these charming and old-fashioned stories. The only thing about them I don’t like, and really, it’s more of an oddity than anything, is the fact that the full-page illustrations (of which there is at least one per chapter) are sideways so that you have to turn the book to look at the illustrations!
Quaint, wholesome, and child-like are words I’d use to describe these stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley. I loved this little exchange between Milly-Molly-Mandy and her mother:
“Mother, what is a Harvest Festival for ? –why do you send fruit and things to Church?”
Mother said, “It’s to say ‘thank you’ to God for giving us such a lot of good things.”
“But what becomes of them, those apples, and jam?” aksed Milly-Molly-Mandy.
“Vicar sends them to the Cottage Hospital generally, so the people there can enjoy them.”
“Does God like that, when they’re given to Him?” asked Milly-Molly-Mandy.
“Yes,” said Mother. “He takes the giving part, the being thankful part, and the rest Vicar sends to people who need it most, so it’s a double giving.” (38)
I think fans of Betsy-Tacy (linked to my review) would really like Milly-Molly-Mandy. I give the girl with the funny name a Highly Recommended.
What are you enjoying as read-alouds these hot summer days? Link up in the comments!
Happy Read Aloud Thursday!