Title: Molly Saves The Day
Author: Valerie Tripp
Illustrator: Nick Backes
Summary: Molly loves Camp Gowonagin from the moment she arrives. She spends two wonderful weeks there singing, hiking, canoeing, and making arts and crafts projects with her friends Linda and Susan. When the camp director announces the beginning of Camp Gowonagin’s Color War, Molly is afraid that the fun may end. Molly and Susan are on the Blue Team. They have to capture the flag hidden on Chocolate Drop Island by the Red Team. Linda is on the Red Team. She is their enemy and their friend. Will the Color War ruin camp for everyone, or can Molly think of a way to save the day?
WOW SO GUESS WHO TOOK LIKE FOUR MONTHS TO FINISH THIS.
Guys I’m really, really sorry for how I let the Molly recaps slip so badly. I lost steam focusing on these and I hope I didn’t wreck the schedule too badly. I wanted these done by the end of 2018 but clearly that didn’t happen. So here’s hoping I’ll have the last two done for real before the year is over.
I’m not good at this.
Head’s up Wing there’s a prank involving bugs and spiders, but it focuses more on worms.
Molly’s spending the summer at Camp Gowonagin with her gal pals Susan and Linda. Emily’s strangely absent for some reason, though that might be due to her moving back in with her aunt Prim during the previous “Molly Mystery” book.
Anyway, the girls have a fantastic time at camp because the counselors and camp director, Miss Butternut, are all super nice, helpful, and supportive. Molly and her friends are all brand new to Gowonagin, but the older campers happily show them the ropes and teach them the camp songs and such. In only a few days Molly feels right at home alongside the other veterans and does her best to live up to the camp motto, “Tidy and True.”
The trio of gal pals each had something they liked in particular about camp:
- Linda’s into archery
- Susan’s loving the campfires, sing alongs, and wienie roasts
- Molly’s digging the nature hikes and her favorite part of the day is the Evening Flag Lowering Ceremony
Every day’s about learning and trying new activities and the girls are busy from morning to evening. Even when the weather’s bad they do arts and crafts.
Although it’s not like there weren’t SOME problems…
One evening Miss Butternut announces Dorinda Brassy won 1st place in the canoe race. Dorinda’s a smug older camper who frequently won shit. But of course Miss Butternut led the camp in cheering the girl who came in last. At Camp Gowonagin, trying’s as important as winning.
Susan came in last and didn’t want to be reminded she can’t keep her canoe straight. Linda cheers her up saying they’ll be leaving in three days so Susan won’t have to see another canoe until next year. Even with her shitty canoe skills Susan admits she’s gonna miss Gowonagin. And figures Molly’s probably got similar feelings about how she can’t swim underwater.
Molly’s peeved at the comparison saying she likes swimming fine. She just doesn’t like going underwater. But thanks for telling everyone SUSAN. Susan defensively replies everyone knows Molly won’t jump in the lake or stick her head beneath the water. She practically drowned when she fell off the dock and needed the counselors to save her. At least Miss Butternut didn’t give her a hard time over it.
Miss Butternut announces tonight’s when they establish the teams for Camp Gowanagin’s famous Color War!
“Tomorrow morning,” said Miss Butternut, “the Red Team will paddle canoes across the narrow part of the lake to Chocolate Drop Island. They’ll put the flag at the top of the hill there. It will be the Red Team’s job to guard the flag. The Blue Team will have its headquarters here at camp, at the boathouse. They’ll try to figure out a way to capture the flag from the Reds. The team that has the flag at sundown wins the game.”
Miss Butternut went on. “When the Blues try to capture the flag, they have to be very fast and very smart, or the Red Team will capture them and put them in prison. Prisoners can be freed only if someone from their own team tags them without being caught by the prison guard.” Miss Butternut’s eyes twinkled. “One last thing,” she said. “The counselors and I will be watching you to be sure everyone is safe. But we’ll be well hidden, so you probably won’t see us.”
That explains it better than I probably could.
Butternuts caps off telling Dorinda Brassy the teams elect their respective captains after dinner. Linda and Molly clearly expect Dorina and her friend Patty’ll be in charge. Molly enviously wonders what it’d be like to be the leader and bring the team to victory. Why, she’d be the talk of the camp…
After dinner the girls hurry to check out the posted sheets with the team line-ups. Unfortunately, Molly and Susan are Blues while Linda’s a Red. Starting tomorrow, they’ll be enemies.
The girls don’t look forward to tomorrow. They’ve never been in a Color War before and don’t know what to do. Linda thinks Dorinda can tell them what to do, but that’s another problem. When Molly and Susan left to attend the pre-War meetup with the other Blues, Dorinda immediately sucked the fun out of it. She’s calling them the Blue Army, for God’s sake! This should’ve been fun but Dorinda’s treating it like a real war.
Molly fears Dorinda”ll order her to do something awful. Everything at camp was just peachy before this Color War nonsense sprung up. Linda doesn’t share Molly and Susan’s worries, figuring it’ll be fun. Now in a REAL war, that’d be different.
Molly remembers when her dad left home. He’s scared too, but saw this as a chance to be brave. Linda reasons this’ll give everyone a chance to be brave, but the girls think it’s easy for her to say that. Linda’s not scared of anything, they believe. Well, that’s not totally true. Linda really doesn’t like bugs and spiders and worms. They gross her out, especially worms because they’re so slimy.
Surely that’s not going to matter at any point…
Molly felt better knowing Linda’s scared of something, but it took forever to fall asleep. She thought about tomorrow’s possibilities, and none looked good.
The next morning the campers receive red and blue armbands to mark their affiliations. Linda leaves with the Reds off to Chocolate Drop Island, marching to the canoes and singing their official song all the way. Though honestly she doesn’t seem too gung ho about it, much to Molly’s relief.
Wishing she could relax like Linda, Molly and Susan are told by Dorinda to head to the Blue Army’s HQ. Inside a boathouse by the lake, Dorinda gets back into her role as General and barks orders at her “Troops.” She’s taking this super seriously and Molly’s getting more concerned by the second.
Unveiling a handmade map of Chocolate Drop Island, Dorinda explains they’ll launch a ground assault. Everyone pairs up in twos, gets in a canoe, and paddles their way to the island. While everyone else holds off the Red Army, Dorinda’s gonna march up the island, grab the flag, and win the war.
Oh Jesus Christ Dorinda’s got the fucking Ojou ringlets. She looks like a descendant of Nellie Oleson from “Little House on the Prairie!”
Molly’s bothered by how easy this plan is. It’s TOO easy. She asks Dorinda what she expects the Red Army to do. I mean, won’t the Reds see them coming if they just paddle to Chocolate Drop Island? Dorinda snidely asks if Molly’s got a better idea, like swimming underwater. Everyone knows Molly’s afraid of swimming underwater so that’s a deliberate jab. Still, Molly argues the Reds’ll be waiting for everyone and asks if there’s another part of the island they can enter. Dorinda’s not up for discussing alternatives, saying Molly can be a deserter if she’s too chicken.
As everyone heads for the canoes, no one dignifies Molly with eye contact except Susan. The two head for the canoes, annoyed Dorinda’s not letting the Blues get lunch like the Red Army. Dorinda’s so smug she thinks everyone’ll be done quickly so they won’t have to bring food with them.
Molly and Susan take longer to get on the water because Susan can’t decide which side of the canoe she wants to sit on. If she’s in front she’ll get splashed. If she’s in back she’ll have to do all the work. And then she complains the canoe’s tipping a lot.
By the time the girls get on the water, most of the Blue Team’s close to Chocolate Drop Island. Molly can see a Red Army scout depart from the shore, and figures the Reds are gonna know they’re coming. But then Susan drops her paddle in the water, and as she tries to grab it the canoe gets turned over!
Molly goes underwater for a few nightmarish moments. When she emerges she notices Susan holding onto the canoe’s side. Once the canoe’s right-side up again it’s half-drenched. Susan apologizes and Molly wants to head to shore to get this over with.
As the girls reach the island they spot an opening where the water cuts into the island. It’s narrow but they direct the canoe into the opening. The opening’s hidden by a rocky wall on one side, pine trees on the other. Molly figures the Red scout won’t see them since they’re on the other side of the trees, but they shouldn’t linger.
First Molly and Susan empty the water out of the canoe until their arms are sore. Susan wants to head back to camp to change clothes and eat lunch when Molly reminds her they have to find the Blues. Susan’s got no enthusiasm left for Color War; she’s especially upset she lost her paddle. Molly offers to do the paddling and Susan thinks that’s probably a good idea. She won’t be able to muck things up again.
The girls quickly paddle to where the rest of the Blues were headed. Only guess what? Dorinda’s plan WAS stupid. All the Blues are in an area marked “PRISON.” Susan notes Molly called this when Linda appears. Susan thinks Linda can help them, forgetting she’s a Red. Linda’s guarding the Blues and starts blowing a whistle to signal the other Reds!
Molly quickly paddles the canoe away from the island before the Reds capture them too. She doesn’t stop until the canoe’s safely back near the boathouse. Susan’s upset Linda just sicced the Reds on them so quickly. Molly remembers Linda’s the one who said not to take this whole thing seriously. Thanks Linda. Molly feels like Linda tricked them, lulled them into a false sense of security. Yeah, Molly REALLY doesn’t like this whole Color War nonsense any more than she had the other night.
Now it’s Molly’s turn to be serious as she figures out a plan to snatch victory from the Reds. Unfortunately, her plan’s a bit mean. Remember Linda’s scared of bugs and worms? Well guess what Molly and Susan are doing? Digging up exactly that and collecting them in a can. Susan doesn’t feel comfortable pulling this on Linda. Molly argues this isn’t being done to Linda, but the Red Army.
“You can’t think of people as people during a war. You think of them as part of an army.”
Susan’s still unsure before Molly reminds her how quickly Linda signaled the Reds to capture them. Plus they’re the only Blues left. Now they have to free everyone AND capture the flag to win.
After scrounging up enough crawly things in a can the girls return to the canoe. Susan refuses to get in front and Molly relents, but says Susan’ll have to paddle this time. Molly plans to duck and lie down so the Red scout doesn’t see her as they get to the island.
Susan’s poor paddling seems to help them, since the zigging and zagging’s confusing the Red scout. The girls canoe back to the hidden part of the island they arrived at before. Susan gets out and Molly stays in.
THE PLAN: Molly’s gonna canoe back to the other part of the island as a decoy. While the Reds focus on Molly, Susan will sneak around and free the Blues.
Susan points out the scout’ll be suspicious if she sees a different girl paddling the canoe and offers to be the decoy instead. Molly’s impressed despite how much Susan’s complained about canoeing. Susan figures Molly’s got the real hard part. Still, Molly’s confident everyone’ll be focused on Susan and won’t notice her.
While Susan canoes, Molly creeps down the shore towards the prison when she spots an inlet cutting into the shore. There wasn’t anything like this on Dorinda’s map, and now Molly figures she’ll have to swim. Putting the (closed) can in her shirt and tucking it into her shorts, Molly swims as quietly as possible until she sees Linda nearby. Shuddering, Molly’s got no choice but to dive under to hide from her (former?) friend.
Opening her eyes underwater, Molly tries swimming a little before finally emerging for air. Luckily she waited long enough so Linda’s gone. Susan’s got everyone’s attention so Linda doesn’t notice Molly. The Reds flank to their canoes ready to take Susan prisoner, but her erratic paddling leaves them wondering what she’s doing. Linda’s Tthe only one staying behind to guard the Blues.
While Linda’s back is turned, Molly scuttles onto land and hides behind some bushes. She waits until the right moment and then dumps the insects on Linda’s head!
Linda’s screaming trying to get the worms off, stopping momentarily to see Molly did this. Molly knows she’s supposed to tag Linda and take her prisoner but can’t do it. Linda’s still her friend, and Molly feels awful for what she’s done. Running from Linda, Molly manages to free all the Blues. The Blue Army makes it into the canoes just fast enough to dodge the Reds, who’re still trying to figure out what the fuck happened.
Molly looks back long enough to see Linda standing there, not doing anything. It feels like Molly’s already lost the war.
The Blues are back in the boathouse except Dorinda. She’s in a special captain’s prison. None of the girls feel sorry for her since Dorinda’s plan got them captured. Susan proposes Molly be leader since it was her plan that freed everyone. Surely she can win the war.
Molly feels a little happy everyone thinks highly of her now, but fears if they lose she’ll get the blame. She wonders if real leaders in real war have felt this same uncertainty. Was this what D-Day felt like? Then it hits Molly maybe the Blues should do what the Allies did on D-Day. The Reds know the Blues are coming, but they don’t know when or where. They can’t land on the beach again, so they have to pick somewhere else.
Proposing the Blues use the same spot Molly and Susan landed on to infiltrate the island, Molly finds it on the map Dorinda made.
Huh, it’s called “Poison Point” for some reason.
Susan points out the opening can only fit one canoe, when another girl suggests the build a dock. Molly thinks it’s a good idea. They can make a floating dock. Like the Allies built their floating dock out of barges and boats to drive trucks and onto the beach. Only the Blues can use the canoes, tying them one after the other to the canoe that’s landed on Poison Point.
The idea’s so crazy it just might work.
Only Susan asks the place’s called “Poison Point,” but no one knows.
Molly proceeds to number the canoes, saying Susan’ll be first and Molly’ll be in the last one. As the Blues canoe back to the island, Molly notices Susan’s paddling straighter than before. The Red scout sees the Blues coming and goes to warn the rest. Molly’s glad, because now the Reds will head to the shore.
The canoes reach Poison Point and the girls make their floating dock. Once everyone’s on land, Molly directs five girls to the beach so they can capture the Reds. These five Blues will then bring the Red prisoners to the camp while the rest free Dorinda and get the flag.
Sadly, Susan tells Molly everyone found out why it’s called “Poison Point.” While she was making her way up the canoe path, the girls discovered this section’s lousy with poison ivy! But now Molly’s determined, saying they have to “Gowonagin!” Molly’s so determined she marches right into the poison ivy and sits down in it! Singing the camp song, Molly says they can win if they go on again and try. Susan joins her and the Blues find the strength to move onward, poison ivy be damned.
One group of Blues head to the beach while Molly leads the rest up Chocolate Drop Hill. The Reds guarding the flag are eating lunch so they don’t notice Molly and the Blues. The Blues fan out and while they tag the Reds, Molly grabs the flag!
The Blues cheer while the Reds are too stunned to respond and get led down the path back through the poison ivy to the canoes. Molly’s group and the other group reconvene with their prisoners, cheering and singing in victory. Dorinda’s sourly silent while Molly can’t find Linda anywhere. But at least the Color War’s over.
Now all the girls have to worry about when they get back is THEY STOMPED THROUGH POISON IVY! Miss Butternut panics when Susan explains Molly’s plan and how they went through Poison Point. No time for celebratory ice cream. Those who were at Poison Point have to shower and then see the camp nurse for lotion. NOW!
Seems like the winners lost after all since they have to shower while the losers get ice cream. But wait! Linda runs up to Susan and Molly and gives them both ice cream cones.
The girls thought Linda would be mad at them for the worm prank. Linda admits she was but thought this was payback for blowing the whistle on them. She wanted to make the counselors proud by taking Color War seriously.
Susan figures this was a messed-up day. Linda was super serious, Susan spent the whole day in a canoe, and Molly swam underwater. No one was acting normally. Linda’s so impressed Molly swam underwater she thinks she DOES deserve to win the war. Molly’s just happy they don’t have to worry about being red or blue. Now everyone’s gonna be pink. Poison ivy pink!
The book caps off with a letter Molly’s written to her dad.
Here I am carrying the flag in the Camp Gowonagin Fourth of July parade. Do you think my face looks funny? Well, it does. I have poison ivy. Just about everyone at camp does. How did we get it? Well Dad, that’s a long story…
WOW THAT TOOK FOREVER.
But thanks for bearing with me on the wait.
I’m impressed this took a different direction from most camp stories. The only weirdness Molly had to endure was from the Color War, and we didn’t spend an entire book dealing with a smug camp Alpha Bitch.