Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon
by Lovell, Patty; Catrow, David (ILT)

"Molly Lou's mother encouraged her to speak up when something is wrong, for those who can't, and even when it's hard, and all of that comes into play when a bully picks on a new kid at school"-

Patty Lovell taught kindergarten for 14 years and recently moved to first grade. She lives in Glen Cove, New York.

David Catrow is the illustrator of many picture books, including Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon and its sequel, Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon, written by Patty Lovell; I Wanna Iguana and its two companion books, I Wanna New Room and I Wanna Go Home, written by Karen Kaufman Orloff; Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel; The Middle Child Blues by Kristyn Crow; and We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution. He lives in Ohio with his wife, Deborah.

Molly Lou Melon uses her voice to stand up for a new friend 19 years after she learned to stand up for herself. Molly Lou Melon, "a tiny girl with a big, deep-down heart," is true to herself, as her mother tells her to be. She accepts people for who they are, and she uses her strong voice to "speak up for anyone who might need [her] help." At school, when Bettina Bonklehead teases Molly Lou and her friend Ronald with "kissy-kissy boyfriend-girlfriend," Molly Lou defends their friendship. When Bettina teases the new boy, Molly Lou defends him and asks him to play at recess. After standing up for him ferociously, Molly Lou leads her friends in giving mean Bettina the option of being a friend too. Lovell's text places this strong protagonist at the centers of a loving family and friend group, making her a role model for readers, with her fearless standing up and speaking out. Catrow's illustrations are borderline fantastical, with birds riding in toy trains and Molly Lou wearing a backpack thrice her size. The ponytail (sometimes multiple) that sticks out beyond her Afro is a superlative ly odd touch. Molly Lou has beige skin, and the very odd-looking new boy has brown skin while the other kids, no more peculiar in aspect than Catrow's typical kewpie, seem to have pale skin. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 63.9% of actual size.) An encouraging message in a quirky package. (Picture book. 4-9) Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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