Pippa Dowling (text), Sunshine Herbert (illus.), Just Like Molly, Empowering Resources, 1 Oct 2016, 24pp., $25.00 (hbk), ISBN: 9780994501073
A deceptively simple book, Just Like Molly explores themes of friendship, imagination, anxiety and courage. Starting school, leaving behind imaginary friends and making new friends are huge events in the life of a young child, and 13 year old Pippa Dowling (she was ten when she wrote the text) captures these situations sweetly and honestly.
The illustrations by Sunshine Herbert, a Melbournian self taught artist, complement the text with their childlike whimsy. Sunshine uses colour extensively, with brightly coloured palettes darkening during times of fear (like when the scary dogs came) and turning to black and white when imaginary friend Molly disappears. The colours return when the main character discovers that others share her love of crayons, slides and gelati, and she realises that she has the courage to make new friends, like Zoe.
This book would be lovely to share with readers between 4-6 years of age. It is probably too simple for older children, although budding writers might be inspired by the youth of the author. It would be useful to use with children who are nervous about starting a new school or class, and also to spark a discussion with little ones about friendship.
Reviewed by Kay Oddone