Molly, a Jewish girl, and her family have moved to America from Russia. Her mother says that the reason was to escape religious persecution and find freedom. First they lived in a tenement house in New York and Papa worked in a factory. Then they came to Winter Hill where Papa works in Mr. Brodsky’s store and they live in the apartment above. However, the children in Molly’s third-grade class make fun of her accent and clothes. Molly even thinks about going back to Russia. At Thanksgiving the teacher says that everyone is supposed to bring a Pilgrim doll to class. The doll that Molly’s mother makes looks like a Russian peasant girl, not at all like the Pilgrims Molly has seen in her schoolbook. Molly is embarrassed and afraid that she will never fit in with her classmates now. What will she do?
This is a lovely story that reminds children, and the rest of us too, that all Americans are in a sense “pilgrims.” In spite of our different backgrounds, there is one thing that we share in common, and that is the freedom, which this great nation affords us. Therefore, we should respect one another. Of course, at Thanksgiving time we must never forget the great foundation laid for our country’s liberty by “The Pilgrims” who landed in 1620. However, we should also be aware of the contributions made by those who have come to this land seeking refuge in the years since then. Molly’s Pilgrim is a wonderful addition to the literature about Thanksgiving for beginning readers. The author, Barbara Cohen (1932-1992), also wrote several other acclaimed picture books and novels for young readers.