THEY CALLED HER MOLLY PITCHER

Rockwell (Becoming Butterflies, p. 107, etc.) retells the inspiring story of a woman named Mary (Molly) Hays, who followed her husband into battle with General George Washington at Valley Forge and then at the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778. That day was brutally hot, and the wounded men would call out to Molly to bring them a pitcher of water. When Molly’s own husband was wounded, she rammed powder into the cannon and kept firing. And so the heroic legend was born. The energetic text appears to be printed on linen, and though it is in very small type for this format, it’s a pleasure to read. The illustrations, in a style echoing early American primitive art are as vibrant in color and spirit. Treated to appear old, the paintings portray the intense cold of Valley Forge and the smoky heat of the New Jersey fields. One double-paged spread gloriously depicts the confusion of hand-to-hand combat with one wounded soldier held in the arms of another á la Michelangelo’s Pietà. A sturdy and determined Molly, a heroic Washington on horseback calmly watching over his exhausted troops bedded down for the night, a painting of the battlefield, and endpapers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution add to the patriotic and feminist mood. Fascinating history to share with young enthusiasts. (author’s note, brief timeline) (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-679-89187-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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SAINT VALENTINE

The most interesting feature of this retelling of a story about a saint martyred in A.D. 270 is the art, a meticulous re- creation of the medium of its subject's period. Using thousands of tiny, rectangular pieces resembling tiles, Sabuda replicates the effect of Roman mosaics. His simple designs and harmonious, gently muted colors are pleasing, and he achieves surprising subtleties of expression, considering the intractability of the medium. Actually, the illustrations work even better from a slight distance (as with a group), so that the demarcations between the tiny pieces are less predominant. The technique, which tends to congeal the action, makes relatively undramatic illustrations; still, it's a fascinating experiment that brings the ancient world to life by paying tribute to its art rather than by picturing it in a modern style. The straightforward narrative centers on Valentine as a physician whose ointment restores the sight of a jailer's blind daughter, long the saint's friend. It's implied that the long-awaited cure takes place at the moment of his offstage death; the story ends with the joy of the child's renewed vision. An unusual and attractive rendition. Historical note. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-689-31762-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1992

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