Mollie Teachers' Notes: Chapters 5 & 6

Chapter 5

  1. We realise from the first chapter that Flora is often less responsible than her daughter is and now we see that Flora doesn’t tell Mollie that she can’t meet her as they’d planned. Flora allows her own mother to break the unpleasant news to Mollie. Take a moment to think quietly about what might have caused Flora to shirk the unpleasant task. Can you understand why she might have done so? Can you empathise with her? (Try not to be too hard on her – grown-ups make mistakes too!)
  2. Mollie is deeply disappointed that she can’t go to Paris, but there may be other emotions at play in her reaction to the news. Can you name some of these, and say if you think her reaction is understandable? How do you think you’d have reacted to the news? Can you suggest a different and better way to deal with unexpected emotions?
  3. Have you ever been away from your family for a long period? Can you imagine what it would feel like to leave your home even for a month? Draw a large heart on an A4 page. Draw a line down the middle to split the heart in two. On one side, write a list of all the things you’d miss about your home if you had to leave. On the other, write a list of the ten things you’d most like to take with you. As you work, think about the choices that refugee children have to make when they are forced to leave their homes, perhaps for ever.
  4. Draw some paper dolls, the sort that Mollie used to make with Granny Ellen. [You will find printable dolls and even some clothes with tabs online if drawing isn’t your favourite subject!] Draw or print one for each character you’ve met so far. In each doll-shape, write as many descriptive words and phrases as you can think of for each of the characters. So, Flora’s doll might say ‘disorganised’ ‘irresponsible’ and Mollie’s might say ‘perceptive’ ‘hot-headed’ etc Add more adjectives to the characters as you read through the book.
  5. What do you think will happen between Lauren’s twin, Landy and Mollie? Do you think they will get on and become friends? Write your predictions in your notebook and see if you were right when you get to the end. In fact, now might be a good time to write your predictions for all the characters – see if you have the same ideas as the author!
  6. Slí an Atlantaigh: Little Bird is a small island off the coast of Ireland and Mollie thinks there it’s boring, boring, boring, with nothing to do and nothing to see, except maybe some tractor-spotting! As you read, make a note of all the attractions on the island, and design a brochure to encourage tourists to visit. And/or choose some part of the Wild Atlantic Way and design a brochure that Fáilte Ireland might use to attract more visitors to our western coast.

Chapter 6

  1. Once again, Mollie has had trouble sleeping. Can you list the reasons she might be finding it difficult to sleep? Have you ever found it difficult to sleep? Were you worried /excited about something? Can you recall your thoughts as you lay awake? If you’re lucky enough to sleep soundly every night, close your eyes and try to picture yourself lying awake – what might you be thinking?
    1. Mollie treasures the gloves her granny had knitted for her eighth birthday. Did you ever get a present that meant a great deal to you? If not, visualise something that you would love to receive on your birthday – no cars or swimming pools, please, try to think of something you might be likely to get from an older relative! Describe this present to your partner/group. Don’t tell them what it is, but let them draw or paint as you describe the colour, texture, shape etc Do your recognise your present in the painting(s)? Can you draw the present more accurately? What might the variety of interpretations tell you about the way we see things?
    2. There’s ‘an awkward silence’ after Mollie mentions Alanna’s parents and discovers that they’re ‘not around.’ Have you ever said /asked something that caused embarrassment or awkwardness? Think about some awkward or embarrassing moment and reflect on what gave rise to it. Do such moments teach young people to recognise the importance of care, courtesy and consideration with others?
    3. Alanna gives Mollie a potion to help her sleep, but what she really wants is something to make her feel less lonely. Many primary schools use Buddy Stops for the junior classes, others train senior pupils to make sure no-one looks lonely or friendless in the yard. Can you write a formula or magic potion that might help Mollie/ any child feel less lonely in school? Be creative!
    4. Flora has always liked to move around a lot and so Mollie has been enrolled in many schools. People react to change with varying degrees of excitement, anticipation, fear, anxiety etc Do you view change as an opportunity or as a problem, or might you have mixed feelings depending on the change involved? Take a few minutes to discuss with your partner/ group.
    5. The school uniform Nan brings back is scratchy and beetroot-coloured – (are all school uniforms scratchy?) – but Mollie isn’t used to wearing a full uniform. What is your opinion of school uniforms? You might do a survey on the opinion of your class/ school and/or have a class debate to tease out the advantages and disadvantages of being dressed exactly like all your fellow pupils. You could address your findings to the Students’ Union/Council and/or the Board of Management of your school.