Molly, by Golly: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter ($16.95, Calkins Creek, Ages 7 and up) could not have come across my desk at a better time. It’s August, I live in Miami and every page of this book is magically illustrated with beautifully falling snow. Naturally I found this very comforting and cooling.
Molly is an African American lady who cooks for the men of the New York Fire Company in the early 1800s. There is a blizzard outside, and many of the firefighters are home sick. Molly discovers there is a terrible fire in the city and is so concerned about the lack of workers, she runs through the snowy streets to the scene of the fire and instantly begins to lend a hand. What she does wins the hearts of the not just the firefighters, but all the people of the city.
What I love about Molly, by Golly is that it accurately depicts the era of the early 1800s. Author Dianne Ochiltree discovered a legend about Molly Williams while doing research for another historical fiction piece. To make the tale truly come to life, she was meticulous about depicting accurate firefighting techniques of that time period. I also applaud the fact that this is a book about heroine, an African American woman who stepped in when it was completely unexpected but desperately needed. Readers will truly appreciate the modern equipment we have available today as compared to back then!
You will thoroughly enjoy the superb, vivid illustrations by artist Kathleen Kemly, who studied old fire equipment at the NY City Fire Museum before beginning her work. In the back of the book are some great questions and answers, a list of additional valuable resources and a bibliography.
I highly recommend this book, as it would make a wonderful gift for any child.