I ordered a book the other day, then waited anxiously for it to arrive in the mail. It’s been one of my favorites for a very long time, and although I already have one copy, I very much desired another. I know this sounds rash, but when I happened upon it at barnesandnoble.com, I couldn’t pass it up. The book is out of print, and while I’ve looked for it over the years, copies seem scarce. The ones I can find are mostly old library volumes, obviously loved and worn, some of them tattered in places, written in, bent. So when I spotted one listed in very good condition and believed it to be a hard copy by description, I just HAD to have it. It helped that it was $6.35. Not exactly a break the bank kind of splurge, or one that I’d feel very guilty about later. A week or so after my purchase, it arrived in the mail.
The package wasn’t terribly promising–thin, soft, admittedly a bit disappointing at first glance. but I opened it up, still expecting this–my second copy, to be in “very good” shape. A yellowed piece of tape marked $.25 had been haphazardly strewn about the front cover, masking one of my favorite Stephen Kellogg illustrations and boasting its former garage sale existence. I considered its previous owner, undoubtedly a poor soul who didn’t recognize the sentimental value of such a story, and who, by my calculation, had perhaps cracked his or her moral compass just slightly whilst up-charging me by 2440%.
No matter. I hesitated only a moment to welcome the orphaned pages into my world. Hardcover or not, with one glance I remembered every page–the story, made alive by whimsical brushstrokes in shades of green and pink and taking me back to all those visits with mom (little sister in tow) to the local library. Molly Moves Out. Susan Pearson’s delightful tale about Molly, the rabbit, whose younger brothers and sisters drive her so crazy that she packs up all her things and moves to a little house far away from the noise and clutter. No more broken lipsticks or clocks, snapped fishing poles or plants fallen victim to her brother’s science experiments. Alone in her new space, Molly meets Martha, her quiet, friendly, mouse of a neighbor. She goes swimming alone in the lake, catches fish to her heart’s content, picks berries in the woods and spots deer on a picnic. She bakes cakes, winds her (working) clock, and reads in the cozy silence. And then, she gets lonely.
At just the right time, Molly’s family comes calling. One rabbit sibling after another, they bring replacements for all of the items that have gone broken or ruined over time. And there’s cake, and laughter. A happy ending. A balance between too much and too little. One of my most favorite stories of all time.
I could relate to Molly then, and can certainly relate to her now. I am Molly. Molly trying to escape from broken pieces and plans not going the way I’ve wanted. Molly seeking refuge and contentment in the quiet spaces, the little things, the small delights that make themselves available in the day to day. Molly trying to create “home.” Molly delighting in friendships, making peace with familial idiosyncrasies, always choosing camaraderie over isolation.
I’ve come across many a delightful children’s book in years gone by–in fact, I still wander into that section of the library on almost every visit. And there are incredible stories, artful illustrations to be had by the plenty. But very few strike me in just the same way as little Molly once did–still does. I love what she represents in each of us; I’m taken with her independence, but also her realization that what she’s always had is more than enough. She’s perfect in her $.25, read-over-and-over, loved and appreciated version, and she’s perfectly welcome as the second copy on my bookshelf. Still, if ever I come across a more pristine, hardcover copy, I’ll probably need to procure that volume, too. I’d like to pass her on to someone else someday, and with her, a love of all things literature and imagination, a sense of wonder and adventure, a determination to pursue self-discovery no matter how close or far away from all of the things that move her heart.
tell me a story. i’m in the mood:)