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Molly's Pilgrim (1983)

by Barbara Cohen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Molly (1)

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1,760307,248 (4)7
Told to make a doll like a pilgrim for the Thanksgiving display at school, Molly's Jewish mother dresses the doll as she herself dressed before leaving Russia to seek religious freedom--much to Molly's embarrassment.

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» See also 7 mentions

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Russian emigre Molly is embarrassed by her mother's attempts to help with her Thanksgiving project. She makes a pilgrim doll--but dresses it in Russian clothing. Soon, however, Molly learns that it takes all kinds of "pilgrims" to make a Thanksgiving.
  PAFM | Jun 16, 2021 |
This is a timeless classic for Thanksgiving. More than any other child's book I've read this underlines the opportunity the holiday offers Americans to reflect on what it means for people to seek a better life in America and the work we must do each generation to welcome them.

On another note, I wish the large picture-book format of the book with the original illustrations would return to print. The current early-chapter format doesn't do the story justice. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Apr 30, 2021 |
Great children’s book about pilgrims in olden times. ( )
  Abrahamray | Sep 19, 2019 |
Set before the Russian Revolution. Molly is a Russian refugee fleeing religious persecution living in a small town in the USA. The story tells what happens when Molly 's Pilgrim doll for a class assignment and receives a wonderful reaction from the teacher. "It takes all kinds of Pilgrims to make a Thanksgiving". Beautiful story. A tear jerker. ( )
  RaskFamilyLibrary | Dec 20, 2018 |
A young Russian-Jewish immigrant girl in the early years of the twentieth century must contend with bullying and the ridicule of her peers when her family moves away from New York City to a smaller town. Here, at the school in Winter Hill, Molly's differences really stand out, especially when the mean Elizabeth is always there to comment on them. When her teacher gives her class an assignment to make little doll-sized Pilgrims or Indians, to be included in the model they are building of the First Thanksgiving, Molly shares the task with her mother. Called upon to explain what Pilgrims are, she describes them as people who "came to this country from the other side," looking for "religious freedom...so they could worship God as they pleased." Molly's mother identifies strongly with this description, and makes a doll that looks just like her, when she was a little girl. For her part, Molly is dismayed, sure that her "Pilgrim" will not find favor with her class and teacher. Fortunately, her teacher, Miss Stickley, uses the incident to explore what it really means to be a Pilgrim, and draws a parallel between the American holiday of Thanksgiving, and the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkoth....

First published in 1983, Molly's Pilgrim is probably one of author Barbara Cohen's most well-known books, and has remained constantly in print since it was first released. I believe that a new edition, with new cover art, was just released earlier this year (2018). That said, although long aware of it, and although a fan of some of Cohen's other books - notably, her Seven Daughters and Seven Sons, which is a particular favorite of mine - I never happened to pick it up before now. A brief thirty pages, it is neither a picture-book (too much text, and too few illustrations), nor a beginning chapter-book (too short, no chapters), but something in between. It is really an illustrated short story, in book format. Its narrative addresses issues of bullying, immigration, social inclusion, cultural knowledge, and religious freedom, using the traditional Thanksgiving story to highlight the message that (as Miss Stickley says), Pilgrims are still coming to America. I found the story here quite moving, even tearing up at a few points, and think that it could be used as a starting point for classroom discussion of so many themes, from bullying and how to deal with it, to the ways in which "history" (even if highly mythologized history, like the "First Thanksgiving" story) has so many parallels in contemporary events. Recommended to anyone looking for children's stories about Thanksgiving, and the meaning it may have for a diverse range of people, but most especially, for new immigrants to America. ( )
2 vote AbigailAdams26 | Nov 23, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barbara Cohenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Duffy, Daniel MarkIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Molly (1)
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Told to make a doll like a pilgrim for the Thanksgiving display at school, Molly's Jewish mother dresses the doll as she herself dressed before leaving Russia to seek religious freedom--much to Molly's embarrassment.

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As Molly nears her first Thanksgiving in the New World, she doesn't find much to be thankful for. Her classmates giggle at her Yiddish accent and make fun of her unfamiliarity with American ways. Molly's embarrassed when her mother helps with a class Thanksgiving project by making a little doll that looks more Russian refugee than a New England Pilgrim. But that tiny modern-day Pilgrim just might help Molly to find a place for herself in America.
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