About ten years ago I was browsing in a bookshop and I came across a book I had long since forgotten about. I couldn’t resist opening it up to see if this modern publication was the same as the book that I remembered from my childhood. The book was Milly-Molly-Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley. The dust cover may have been brightly coloured, but the inside was so familiar, with its beautifully illustrated images and the village map inside the front and back covers. Memories of my mother reading the short stories to me at bedtime brought a smile to face and made me wish to do the same for my daughters. So I picked it up and purchased it. I couldn’t wait to get home and read it.
Milly-Molly-Mandy lives in a small village in England, deep in the countryside. She lives in ‘the nice white cottage with the thatched roof’ with her Mother, Father, Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle and Aunty. Set in the late 1920s, there is not a lot for her to do and so she embarks on adventures with her friends: Billy Blunt, little-friend-Susan, and Mrs Muggins’ Jilly. Milly-Molly-Mandy, in her trademark pink and white striped dress, likes to help people and keep herself busy. She learns how to knit, prepares for the village fête, goes on a picnic, makes presents, runs errands, and so on.
The Milly-Molly-Mandy series of books are beautifully written. They give an idealised representation of what life was like during the period post0World War I, and show how country life for girls was very different from city life. She is kind, strong, adventurous, and brave. I remember the fun of reading a story and referring to the illustrated village map to find the various locations that are written about. The stories are suitable for girls age 5-8, however given the pure innocence of the tales they will be of continuous joy for many years after this. My grandmother read them to my mother, my mother read them to me, I read them to my daughters, and I hope my children will continue the tradition, too.
Girl Museum Inc.