Reviews for Molly, by Golly! : The Legend of Molly Williams, America's First Female Firefighter

Booklist Reviews 2012 October #2
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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
African American servant cook Molly Williams became the first known woman firefighter; this biographical snippet starts slowly but gains some momentum as she helps extinguish a fire in her New York City neighborhood. Action-packed text and energetic but muddled-looking watercolors depict the rigors of early-nineteenth-century firefighting. More so than the story does, an author's note and FAQs highlight Williams's accomplishments. Reading list, websites. Bib.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 August #1
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 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 August #3

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.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 October

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

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