ISBN 0937295256 - The American Girl books are quickly becoming favorites of mine, mostly for sentimental reasons. I'm not sure that that reason translates for young girls, but their little consumer-driven hearts will enjoy the "real" stories of their dolls anyway. With a war going on now, this book seemed very appropriate, so I bumped it up the to-be-read list.
The McIntires, like most of America, faced the Christmas of 1944 with a combination of hope and worry. Molly's older sister, Jill, was encouraging everyone to be "realistic", and not waste time hoping for fun presents because they'd be disappointed when everything they got was practical. Their father was off in Europe, in danger every day, but it was still hard to believe that the magic of Christmas would wane this year. No gifts had arrived from Dad and Molly, for one, was certain they would show up soon. In the meantime, the McIntires will have to learn to make do and create their own special surprises for one another.
There are some spectacular moments in this story, including the conversation between Molly and Jill, where the girls reveal their real concern about the lack of gifts from their father: if he hasn't sent anything, not even a card, how can they know he's okay? The current wars don't really equate to WWII, and the level of patriotism and sacrifice are not exactly the same, but the belief in Santa, the joy of Christmas, the love of family and the worries for the people serving our country... those are always the same. Molly's Surprise captures them very well - I think adults will even find themselves enjoying this one. The educational material at the end of the book is a nice bonus.