When I was a child, the only three American Girl dolls that existed were Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly. I loved the American Girl doll Molly for a few reasons: we both had glasses, we both wore our brown hair in braids and, while her father fought in World War II, both of my grandfathers did so.
I learned so much about history by reading the American Girl Molly books, and I swooned each time a catalog came in the mail. Of course, we were rarely allowed to order any of these expensive items, but we were lucky enough to each get a doll in our house and read all the books.
So, needless to say, it was a nostalgic trip down memory lane to re-read and summarize the original American Girl Molly books by Valerie Tripp for you below. They are one of the best selling book series of all time!
Note: The American Girl Molly books with the original covers and illustrations can be hard to come by today. So, if you are looking to buy them, I have linked a few retailers below where you will have the best chance of finding them.
The Original American Girl Molly Books
Below are all the original six American Girl Molly books in chronological order of both publication date and storyline (the order is the same for both) with detailed summaries of each one.
1. Meet Molly: An American Girl (1986)
Meet Molly takes place in October 1943.
Molly McIntire is introduced as a nine-year-old American Girl living during the era of World War II. Her best friends are Linda and Susan. Her siblings are Jill, Ricky, and Brad, and they live with their mother while their father is a doctor away in England at War, mending the wounded soldiers. Her mother works long hours at the Red Cross, so the housekeeper Mrs. Gilford is often present.
Molly is disappointed to eat turnips from the family’s Victory Garden, as they avoid the use of canned foods for dinner, and she also considers her upcoming Halloween costume.
Molly’s mother comes home and has tea with her, reminding her that the War is hard on everyone.
Molly becomes jealous of her wealthy classmate Alison’s angel costume. Molly and her friends discuss their Halloween costume ideas, while Ricky taunts them, then shows he has a crush on Jill’s friend, Dolores.
Mrs. McIntire suggests the girls make grass skirts and dress as hula dancers for Halloween, which they agree upon. While trick or treating, they run into Alison and receive popcorn balls and apples due to the shortage of candy. Upon arriving home, they are sprayed with a hose by Ricky and vow to get revenge.
Ricky is punished by being forced to give the girls his Halloween treats, and the next day the girls devise and enact a plan by which they dump Ricky’s underwear on Dolores’s head in front of him.
Ricky and Molly are punished, and they make up with each other.
2. Molly Learns A Lesson: A School Story (1986)
In Ms. Campbell’s classroom, Molly’s classmate, Howie, reminds the teacher of the multiplication bee.
Meanwhile, Molly daydreams that Ms. Campbell’s ring is from a soldier and that Molly will be a flower girl at their wedding when he returns home from the War.
While learning about England, Molly tells the classroom about her father’s work in the War.
Then, during the multiplication bee, Molly answers incorrectly, and Alison beats Howie to win the bee.
After lunch, Ms. Campbell divides the class into groups for a Lend-A-Hand contest to assist with Wartime efforts. Howie suggests a “boys versus girls” competition.
Alison proposes knitting socks, which Molly doesn’t like because it’s so hard, and the boys decide to collect tin foil for scrap metal.
After school, Mrs. Gilford serves Molly, Susan, and Linda bread, which she bakes weekly for the local canteen, and she offers them knitting supplies for the contest.
The girls decide to abandon the knitting project in favor of acting like spies and collecting bottle caps for scrap metal.
Alison leaves them a note, inviting them to a knitting bee, and Molly crumples it.
The next day, the girls unsuccessfully attempt to collect bottle caps in the rain and peak into Alison’s knitting bee, which appears warm and cozy. Alison’s mother invites them inside.
The other girls all confess that knitting is hard and, together, they agree to make a blanket out of the squares they have knitted instead, which will be easier. Thereafter, they also help collect bottle tops for Molly’s project and win the contest with both their projects.
The blanket is sent to the hospital where Molly’s father works, and Molly learns the lesson of teamwork.
3. Molly’s Surprise: A Christmas Story (1986)
Molly’s Surprise takes place in December 1943.
As Mrs. McIntire makes a wreath, Molly writes a Christmas letter to her father, and she and her siblings wonder if he will send them Christmas presents this year.
Jill worries that young Brad will be disappointed that he may not receive toys during a time of War. Jill wishes for a ski cap, and Molly reminds her that Christmas is full of surprises, but Jill tries to be realistic. Molly still can’t help but wish for a doll as a gift.
Molly confides she is becoming concerned about a wartime Christmas, and her mother encourages her that the family will make their own surprises and never give up hope.
Molly eats a sticky bun and helps Ricky decorate the tree, as her siblings all argue about how it should look.
Mrs. McIntire goes shopping with Brad, and the remaining siblings receive a disappointing phone call that their grandparents cannot attend Christmas.
Molly, Jill, and Ricky use pennies to buy a scrawny Christmas tree as a surprise, which looks better decorated, and their mother is pleased with what they’ve done.
While Molly loves making surprises, she still wishes for a box from their Dad so she knows he’s safe. Jill comforts her and confesses her similar fears.
The next morning, the first snowfall blankets the ground, and Molly jumps out of bed to play in it. With Jill, she finds a box from their father to be opened on Christmas day. They hide it to keep it a surprise, which is a lot of hard work.
Molly enjoys Christmas Eve service at church, where she prays for peace.
At midnight, Molly and Jill carry the box to the tree, which Santa has already visited, and the next morning, they surprise their family with it. From their father, Brad receives a canteen and a soldier’s hat, Ricky receives a silk pilot’s scarf, Jill receives a new skating hat, Molly receives a nurse doll, and Mrs. McIntire receives leather gloves. The family is happy with their surprise gifts.
Together they open more presents, eat, and listen to songs on the radio, where they hear one last surprise, as their father sends a Christmas voice message to them.
4. Happy Birthday, Molly!: A Springtime Story (1987)
Happy Birthday, Molly! takes place in March and April 1944.
Molly tells Linda and Susan the good news that an English girl their age is visiting America and staying with them for safety.
In the basement, Molly, Linda, and Susan build a faux bomb shelter and wonder if the English girl has one, as Ricky pretends his basketball is a bomb.
The English girl, Emily, arrives and it surprises the girls that she is shy, thin, and pale. Molly’s mother encourages Molly to be patient with Emily.
Molly begins planning her upcoming birthday party, when a blackout drill occurs, scaring Emily. Emily confides in Molly about the horrors of the War in England and how she feels about leaving her family, and Molly tells Emily about her father. Then, they find more common ground in discussing the English princesses, and Emily smiles.
Together, they look at Emily’s princess scrapbook and decide to dress alike, like the English princesses. Molly wishes they could also have dogs, and they play with imaginary ones as they share roller skates.
Emily gives Molly the idea to have a birthday tea party, and Molly decides to make it a shared party for both of them. Emily teaches Molly about the food traditionally served at an English tea party, which fails to excite Molly, as she years for an American birthday cake.
Emily doesn’t have a party dress, so Molly agrees to wear normal clothes with her, so they look alike. The girls also debate the similarities and differences in their countries’ music.
Molly then becomes angry that her party is becoming more about Emily and less about her, and the girls get into an argument.
The next morning, Molly thinks of her father and wants to apologize to Emily, but not before the family rushes in with two dogs as a birthday surprise. The girls reconcile as they play with the dogs they name Yank and Bennett after each other.
Then, they find two matching pinafore dresses in the closet and agree that this is one very happy birthday.
5. Molly Saves the Day: A Summer Story (1988)
Molly Saves the Day takes place in June and July 1944.
Molly is excited to spend two adventurous weeks at Camp Gowonagin with Linda and Susan. She loves hiking and the evening lowering of the flag.
One day, the director, Miss Butternut announces that a competitive older camper named Dorinda won the canoe race, but they all still cheer on Susan, who came in last place. Susan won’t miss canoeing, and she says that Molly won’t miss swimming underwater, which angers Molly.
Miss Butternut announces a Color War, and Molly and Susan are on the Blue team, while Linda becomes their enemy on the Red team.
Leading the blue team, Dorinda treats this like a real war, which spoils the fun for Molly. But, Molly questions Dorinda’s canoeing strategies, and Dorinda challenges her to swim underwater alternatively.
During the Color War, Molly’s and Susan’s canoe tips, forcing Molly to briefly go underwater. Once it’s back upright, they realize the other Blues have been captured, and they, too, may be captured, when Linda blows her whistle.
Susan acts as a decoy paddling in front of the Reds, and Molly swims underwater towards the Blues, who are guarded by Susan. Molly drops a can of worms and bugs on Susan, which she is afraid of, and frees the Blues, except for Dorinda, who is in a different prison.
Molly is elected their new leader and, thinking of D-Day, she decides they will land on Poison Point. Upon arrival, they must brave their way through poison ivy in order to capture the flag and win the Color War.
Linda reconciles with Molly and Susan by sharing ice cream with them, and Molly writes a letter to her dad about how everyone got poison ivy.
6. Changes for Molly: A Winter Story (1988)
Changes for Molly takes place in March 1945.
As Molly, Linda, and Susan wait for the bus after dance class, they talk about the Hurray for the U.S.A.! show in which they will try out for the soloist part of Miss Victory.
Molly thinks she needs curly hair to get the part, upon the urging of her friends.
Meanwhile, the McIntire family receives word from their father that he is finally returning home from the War in the near future. He talks about how Molly’s siblings have probably changed, but she’s likely the same old Molly.
Molly knows that getting curly hair and dancing Miss Victory is exactly what she needs to do to prove to her dad she’s grown.
Molly and her mother discuss what Mr. McIntire will look like and how he will be changed by the War. Similarly, Linda and Susan discuss some of the tragedies that have occurred to people they know during the War. The girls also struggle to recall life before the War.
Later, Jill finds the girls attempting to give Molly a perm and, instead, gives Molly pin curls, assuring her that she has, in fact, changed for the better.
Molly dances so hard at her auditions that her curls straighten. She and Jill attempt new treatments, including a wet treatment that works.
With her new curly hair, Molly also removes her glasses and dances her way into the role of Miss Victory. The rehearsal is a smash, despite Molly’s burgeoning cold and her inability to see without her glasses.
The next day, Molly is too ill to dance in the show, so she’s sadly left home alone while her family participates.
But, it’s not as bad as it seems when the front door opens and Molly is the first to see her father has returned and thinks Molly looks just perfect.
Exploring the pages of the original American Girl Molly books by Valerie Tripp is like embarking on a nostalgic journey through the heart of World War II. These captivating stories not only introduce us to the spunky and resilient Molly but also provide a vivid and educational glimpse into a significant period in history.
Looking for the newly designed American Girl Molly books instead? You can find them on Amazon below: