A pleasing historical tidbit.

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MOLLY, BY GOLLY!

THE LEGEND OF MOLLY WILLIAMS, AMERICA'S FIRST FEMALE FIREFIGHTER

The first American female firefighter was an African-American cook in the first quarter of the 19th century in New York City.

Ochiltree and Kemly tell Molly Williams’ story in lively prose and richly modeled watercolors. Molly cooked for Mr. Aymar, who was also a volunteer firefighter for the Oceanus Engine Company No. 11. A heavy snowstorm and a wave of influenza laid many of the volunteers low, so Molly took herself out of the kitchen and alerted runners—the boys who spread the alarm—and then put on a leather helmet and gloves and worked beside the men pumping water from the river, passing buckets of water hand to hand, until finally the blaze was out. All the pages are double-spread, full-bleed images, showing much period detail along with the flames and falling snow and Molly’s signature bright blue calico dress and checkered apron. Faces are broad and full of emotion, with Molly’s strong brown face showing every nuance of determination and courage. The bibliography includes titles for children and for adults, as well as websites and other links. There is also a FAQ that clearly explains many of the historical details.

A pleasing historical tidbit. (author’s note, acknowledgments) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59078-721-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Utterly compelling.

WHEN I WAS EIGHT

The authors of Fatty Legs (2010) distill that moving memoir of an Inuit child’s residential school experience into an even more powerful picture book.

“Brave, clever, and as unyielding” as the sharpening stone for which she’s named, Olemaun convinces her father to send her from their far-north village to the “outsiders’ school.” There, the 8-year-old receives particularly vicious treatment from one of the nuns, who cuts her hair, assigns her endless chores, locks her in a dark basement and gives her ugly red socks that make her the object of other children’s taunts. In her first-person narration, she compares the nun to the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, a story she has heard from her sister and longs to read for herself, subtly reminding readers of the power of literature to help face real life. Grimard portrays this black-cloaked nun with a scowl and a hooked nose, the image of a witch. Her paintings stretch across the gutter and sometimes fill the spreads. Varying perspectives and angles, she brings readers into this unfamiliar world. Opening with a spread showing the child’s home in a vast, frozen landscape, she proceeds to hone in on the painful school details. A final spread shows the triumphant child and her book: “[N]ow I could read.”

Utterly compelling. (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55451-490-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Weatherford and Christie dazzlingly salute African-Americans’ drive to preserve their dignity and pride.

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FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE

Count down the days until Sunday, a day for slaves in New Orleans to gather together and remember their African heritage.

In rhyming couplets, Weatherford vividly describes each day of nonstop work under a “dreaded lash” until Sunday, when slaves and free blacks could assemble in Congo Square, now a part of New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong Park and on the National Register of Historic Places. Musicians “drummed ancestral roots alive” on different traditional instruments, and men and women danced. They also exchanged information and sold wares. The poetry is powerful and evocative, providing a strong and emotional window into the world of the slave. Christie’s full-bleed paintings are a moving accompaniment. His elongated figures toil in fields and in houses with bent backs under the watchful eyes of overseers with whips. Then on Sunday, they greet one another and dance with expressively charged spirits. One brilliant double-page spread portrays African masks and instruments with swirling lines of text; it is followed by another with four dancers moving beautifully—almost ethereally—on a vibrant yellow collage background. As the author notes, jazz would soon follow from the music played in Congo Square.

Weatherford and Christie dazzlingly salute African-Americans’ drive to preserve their dignity and pride. (foreword, glossary, author’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0103-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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