________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 24. . . .February 22, 2013


Molly’s Promise. (Orca Young Readers).

Sylvia Olsen.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2013.
127 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $7.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0277-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0278-0 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0279-7 (epub).

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

**½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



“Good wonderful morning, Riverside,” Ms. Clarkson said. “Fifteen talented Riverside students have entered the Valley Talent competition. Way to go. Clarissa Eng, a dance teacher from Vancouver, will be in the multipurpose room at lunch today. She will talk about how to make the best of your performance. All of the contestants and their managers are invited to attend. Bring your lunch and listen up.”

Murphy gave Molly a thumbs-up from two desks in front of her. She frowned, shook her head and mouthed the words, “I don’t want to go.”

She imagined Paige and her friends hogging Clarissa Eng’s attention. And besides, Molly couldn’t think of one thing a dancer would know about singing.


Molly’s Promise, Olsen’s latest chapter book, is about a broken promise. Molly Jacobs, a grade seven student from Long Inlet, vowed to herself that her mom would be the first person to hear her sing. But her mom hasn’t been around in a long time, and her school is having a talent competition. As the deadline to enter nears, Molly feels the need to vocalize the songs she’s been singing in her head all her life. Although she has the courage to share her dream with her father, she struggles to tell her best friend, Murphy. When his shock subsides though, Murphy uses the competitiveness he displays on the school soccer team to help Molly win the talent show. He finds an audience for her, he encourages her to practice, and he stands up for her when others in the school cause her to lose her confidence.

     The suspenseful part of this story though isn’t who will win the talent show. The reader will instead be wondering if and how Molly will reunite with her mom. Olsen’s main character struggles with identity issues because of her multiracial heritage (her father is First Nations and her mother is white) and her absent mother. Molly’s friendship with a group of boys at school causes her problems at times, but, after she hears a heartfelt apology from her childhood friend Nell, she is able to rekindle their friendship. An elementary school audience can relate to Molly’s struggles, but the author’s use of repetition in the plot when discussing Molly’s promise and her desire to sing can be tiresome.


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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