December/January Character feature

This issue's featured girl: Molly

From the American Girls Club Handbook:

Project One: Afternoon at the Movies

Pop some Victory Popcorn (below) and watch a movie that Molly might have seen in 1944. Rent one of these movies or borrow one from your library:
Cinderella. This classic fairy tale is as popular now as it was when Molly first saw it in the 1940's.
Meet Me in St. Louis. This 1944 classic is actually set in Samantha's time at the 1904 World's Fair!
National Velvet. Twelve-year-old Velvet Brown loves horses. When she finally gets a horse of her own, she sets her sights on the greatest horse race in all of England.

Make Victory Popcorn
You will need: a medium saucepan with lid, hot mitts, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1/2 cup popping corn, a large bowl, and salt. If you are young, make sure to have an adult help you.
1) Pour the oil into the pan. Place the pan on a burner and set the heat on medium-high.
2) Put 1 kernel of popcorn into the pan. When it pops, pour in the rest of the kernels and cover the pan with the lid.
3) When the kernels start popping, turn the heat down to low. While the corn is popping, put on the hot mitts and shake the pan back and forth so that the kernels don't burn. When the popping slows down, turn off the burner.
4) Pour the popped popcorn into a bowl and add salt. Sorry, no butter--it was rationed during World War Two!

Did you know?
The world was a scary place during World War Two, but on Saturday everything seemed different. Saturday was movie day! Ten cents got Molly into the theater, and she got a lot for her money! She saw a cartoon and then a newsreel about war events. She saw a short Western and an episode of a serial, or ongoing story, which left her in suspense until the next week. In addition, singers and dancers performed on the stage in front of the screen. Molly might have even gotten a free toy or an invitation to join a fan club for her favorite star! Yet nothing could compare with the feature movie. Children were allowed to cheer and boo during the show, and even to walk around the theater talking to their friends. Sometimes, though, the movie was so entracing that Molly didn't even notice the boy in the balcony who dropped popcorn on her head!

Project two: Be a Field Reporter

In 1944, radio reporters brought news of the war to the home front. Record your own World War Two radio news report with sound effects and play it for your family and friends!
1) Look up an event from World War Two, such as D-Day or V-J Day, in an encyclopedia. Ask a librarian to help you find books and magazine articles about your chosen event.
2) Write a story about your event. To organize your ideas, try to answer these questions as you write: Who is this story about? What happened? When did it happen? Where did it happen? Why did it happen?
3) You might be able to check out audio tapes of World War Two news broadcasts from the library. Listen to them to hear how real radio broadcasters sounded in Molly's day.
4) Record yourself reading your broadcast. If you wish, use sound effects like the ones described below.

Make Sound Effects
1) Static. Radio broadcasts from overseas often had lots of static. To make your own static, record the sound a piece of paper makes as you crumple it.
2) Rain. Field reporters worked in all kinds of weather. To make the sound of rain, all you need is an aluminum pie plate and a cup of uncooked rice. Drop the grains of rice slowly into the pan. If it's a downpour, drop the rice faster!
3) Cheering crowd. Reporters often had to shout over a cheering crowd when they covered homecoming parades for soldiers. Gather a few friends and really whoop it up! Blow on horns, bang on pots, and shout "V is for Victory!"
4) Waves. If you're broadcasing from a ship at sea, you'll need wave sound effects. Fill a sink half full of water. Record the sound the water makes as you slosh it against the side of the sink.

Did you know?
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, known to the American public as FDR, was president from 1933 to 1945. During the Depression and World War Two, FDR gave a series of "fireside chats" on the radio. Each week, he gave a little radio talk about what was happening in America and the world. FDR didn't talk just to the grownups during his radio broadcasts. He told children that America needed their help to win the war, too. That made children like Molly feel important, and listening to his calm, sure voice made them feel a little safer. Until Molly was nearly 11 years old, FDR was the only president she knew. He was president longer than anyone else before or since. Most children in Molly's time thought he would be president forever, but he died on April 12, 1945, just four months before the war ended. After his death, one home-front girl remembered, "I thought nobody else would know how to be president."

Want to know more?

Fiction books set in Molly's time:

"Pearl Harbor is Burning!" by Kathleen V. Kudlinski
"Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry
"Journey to Topaz" and "Journey Home" by Yoshiko Uchida

Nonfiction books about Molly's time:
"Rosie the Riveter" by Penny Colman
"V is for Victory" by Sylvia Whitman

Movies set in Molly's time:
Mister Roberts
National Velvet
On the Town

Music from Molly's time:
Singers like Frank Sinatra and the Andrews Sisters lifted the hearts of Americans with popular songs like "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" and "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else But Me."
People listened to Aaron Copland's new ballet "Appalachian Spring" and other classical music on the radio.

Special places to visit:
Franklin D. Roosevelt Library-Museum
511 Albany Post Rd.
Hyde Park, NY 12538
The presidential home and library