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Molly, by golly! : the legend of Molly Williams, America's first female firefighter
2012
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Author Notes
Dianne Ochiltree is the author of several award-winning picture books for the very young, including Ten Monkey Jamboree , Sixteen Runaway Pumpkins (Margaret K. McElderry Books) and Lull-a-bye , Little One (G.P. Putnam's Sons). Dianne lives in Sarasota, Florida, with her family and pets in a house by the bay. You can visit her at ochiltreebooks.com.<br> <br> <p>Kathleen Kemly Molly, By Golly included a trip to the New York City Fire Museum. While in New York she was able to imagine Molly You Can for Calkins Creek and A Fishing Surprise for Cooper Square Publishing, among others. Kathleen lives in Seattle and can be reached at kathleenkemly.com.<br></p>
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  Publishers Weekly Review

Ochiltree and Kemly share the little-known story of Molly Williams, an African-American woman who, in the early 1800s, went from cooking for New York City's volunteer firefighters to battling blazes alongside them as the first female firefighter. The men of Fire Company No. 11 adore Molly's hasty pudding and apple tansey, but when a fire breaks out during a blizzard, she races outdoors to warn the neighborhood, then helps haul out the pumper engine, carry buckets, and combat the fire. Kemly's snow-streaked illustrations show Molly as a woman of determination and strength, and a sense of both danger and heroism radiates from the story. Ages 7-10. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

  School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-Williams was a cook for New York City's volunteer Fire Company 11 in the early 1800s. When a snowstorm and influenza threatened to cripple the firefighters' efforts, the African American woman fled her kitchen as the first church bells announced a fire nearby. She alerted the runners to gather buckets and volunteers, fetched water from the river, pumped the engine, sprayed the blazing wooden house, and "pulled down chunks of burning roof with a hooked iron rod." From then on, she was known as "Volunteer No. 11," the first woman firefighter in America. Mouths will water at the mention of Molly's delectable 19th-century dishes such as hasty pudding, chicken roly-poly, hot apple tansey, and venison stew-students will probably want to research the recipes as well. They can also compare the tools, equipment, and practice of firefighting today to that of 200 years ago. Vibrant watercolor illustrations are filled with historical details; windmills, butter churns, cobblestoned streets, wooden houses with thatched roofs, and weather vanes capture the "small town" community in which everyone pitches in to avert crisis. This attractive, engaging, carefully researched title will not only enrich firefighting units, but is also recommended for women's history and lessons on post-Colonial life.-Barbara Auerbach, P.S. 217, Brooklyn, New York (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

The subject is a natural for classrooms and libraries, but there is nothing dry or didactic in Ochiltree's tale of volunteerism. It has enough action, drama, and fascinating period details about firefighting to keep boys and girls engaged. Set in New York City, the story chronicles how Molly Williams, an African American cook, jumped in to help a skeleton crew of firefighters put out a house fire during the 1818 blizzard. Working tirelessly alongside the men to battle the raging blaze, Williams proved she was as fine a fire lad as any, and through her capable, courageous actions, she secured both a job as Volunteer No. 11 and a place in history. Kemly's richly colored double-page illustrations are filled with energy and action and extend the information about early-nineteenth-century life, especially techniques for fighting fires. Substantial back matter includes lists of related books and websites and more on Williams but does not touch on whether she was a slave, as some sources claim and firefighting past and present.--McKulski, Kristen Copyright 2010 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

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)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
This legendary tale introduces young readers to Molly Williams, an African American cook for New York City's Fire Company 11, who is considered to be the first known female firefighter in U.S. history. One winter day in 1818, when many of the firefighting volunteers are sick with influenza and a small wooden house is ablaze, Molly jumps into action and helps stop the blaze, proudly earning the nickname Volunteer Number 11. Relying on historic records and pictures and working closely with firefighting experts, Dianne Ochiltree and artist Kathleen Kemly not only bring this spunky and little-known heroine to life but also show how fires were fought in early America.
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