Molly and the Runaway Trolley

Teach kids how to put the brakes on stress and worry with this entertaining picture book

Author: Ashley Bartley
Illustrator: Brian Martin

New Title available in August 2023

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August 2023



Molly’s mind is filled with dread and worry, leaving her shaky, sweaty, dizzy, and queasy. She feels like her body’s riding a streetcar that has completely careened out of control.

It’s a feeling that comes anytime she’s about to take a test, a quiz, or has an unexpected change in routine. Her anxiety transports her onto a jam-packed trolley filled with all her worries, fears, and doubts. She doesn’t know how to get off, how long the ride will last, or where she will end up. But one thing is certain: the ride makes her head hurt, her heart pound, her ears ring, and her legs wobble.

When Molly finds herself on yet another twisting, twirling trolley ride, she is determined to make it stop. She begs the operator, a grandfatherly type with a twinkle in his eyes, to pull the brakes. But he won’t because he can’t.

He’s not the one who is actually at the controls. Molly is!

Molly tells him that’s impossible because she’s just a kid. But he assures her that the power to stop the trolley is in her hands. He explains how taking deep breaths engages the brakes, how stepping back from worry puts the trolley in reverse, and how counting down using the five senses leads to a smooth stop and solid ground.    

Now that Molly knows how to take control, will she be able to slow down this anxiety-fueled streetcar? Or will she be stuck on a never-ending ride with no exit?            

Using snappy text and lively illustrations, author Ashley Bartley explores childhood anxiety and feelings of panic. A special page written specifically for parents, caregivers, and educators offers insights and strategies on how to empower elementary-age children with the skills they need to manage stress and use self-regulation strategies.  

Molly and the Runaway Trolley is the first title in Bartley’s Self-Management and Me book series, written for students in PreK-5. She also is the author of the entertaining Diamond, Opal and Friends bookseries, which includes these popular titles: Jasper Wants to Stay Home, Diamond Rattle Loves to Tattle, Opal Octopus Is Overwhelmed, and Remi in Overdrive.


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