October 2004

Lessons from a trying day

By Gary Paulsen
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Welcome to a day in Molly McGinty's world! Today is Senior Citizen's Day at Our Lady of Mercy Middle School and, despite the fact the no other sixth-grader is having guests, Molly knows her grandmother Irene would never miss a chance to return to school. Molly lives with her grandmother, because, "well, she wanted me" after a car accident claimed her parents' lives.

Molly is worried about the school visit because her grandmother is likely to say and do just about anything. Even worse, Molly is freaked out because she has lost her three-ring binder. This is no ordinary binder. This is where she makes her lists, keeps her grandmother's business schedule, stores her bus tokens, files her homework and writes her journal (in code, of course). Her binder is her security blanket, and the endless lists written there are what keep her life in control.

Her friends, the Marys (Mary Margaret, Mary Pat and Mary Bridget), help her retrace her steps, but the notebook does not turn up. Molly has to face the world without her talisman, and the results aren't reassuring. First, Molly falls onto the corner of a piece of furniture and blackens her eye. Things go from bad to worse as Molly ends up covered in spaghetti, embarrassed at her grandmother's coarse language, mortified to be serving detention with her grandmother, drenched with ink, and . . . well, you get the drift.

Molly takes all of these challenges in stride, though. When she realizes why and how her binder has disappeared, she is forced to deal with her anger and face the truth: that she is more than her binder and that she is, after all, loved.

In Molly McGinty Has a Really Good Day, acclaimed author Gary Paulsen has created a touching and honest tall tale of intergenerational love.

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