The first thing that struck me when reading Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon was the rather exaggerated art style, which, at first, was not my cup of tea. However, it grew on me as I read, as it reminded me of a book from my childhood with similar illustrations. Molly Lou Melon uses her exaggerated features to show others that while she may not be considered pretty, she has great confidence in herself. This confidence allows her to go about life with a smile on her face, making friends along the way.
Molly Lou Melon is “the shortest girl in the first grade” who has buck teeth and a voice like “a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor.” Luckily, she doesn’t mind these harsh descriptions because her grandma taught her that if she accepts herself, the world will as well. This skill is put to the test when Molly Lou Melon moves to a new town and starts her first week at a new school. A bully, Ronald Derkin, immediately begins making fun of her physical appearance in which Mary Lou Melon responds by happily showing off the feature he has made fun of. With each failed attempt to put her down, Ronald feels “very foolish,” and eventually makes friends with Molly Lou Melon.
Developing a Healthy Self-Image
Establishing a positive self-image in children early on is important. As children grow older and begin establishing their own unique identity, there may be situations in which their images of themselves will be challenged. Children handle this conflict better and are less likely to discriminate when they are taught that accepting themselves is a normal part of life.
Dealing Positively With Bullies
While other stories may deal with bullies through self-defense, Molly Lou Melon deals with the bully Ronald by meeting his insults head on with a smile. She shows him that what he sees as imperfections, she sees as what makes her unique.Molly Lou Melon acknowledges her perceived imperfections and embraces them without letting the words of others get her down.
The illustrations are bold, with exaggerated features and colors, giving it a 3D-like effect reminiscent to that of Goodnight Opus by Berkeley Breathed. Molly Lou Melon herself is almost mouse-like with her big eyes and pointed face; not unlike the Whos from Dr. Seuss.
This exaggerated art style works together with the text by highlighting Molly Lou Melon’s features so children can easily see what is being pointed out when the bully makes fun of her.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon is good for preschoolers who are becoming more aware of themselves and may feel different from others. With repetitive verse, simple language, and the linear passage of time, young children can easily follow along.