Title: Molly Bannaky
Author: Alice McGill
Illustrator: Chris K. Soentpiet
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
ATOS level: 4.8
Concepts: child schooling and work; discrimination; indentured servants; natural resources
Review: Molly Bannaky retells the true story of Molly Walsh, an English woman banished to the American colonies as an indentured servant. After many years of hard work, she is able to stake a claim to nearby land, but she discovers her own labor is not sufficient. She visits a slave auction, where she purchases an African slave, Bannaky, with the intention of freeing him as soon as the season’s crop is reaped. Instead, she falls in love with Bannaky and the two marry, continuing to work the land they now own. The tale concludes with a sneak peak at Molly and Bannaky’s grandson, Benjamin Banneker. A historical note at the end of the book explains with more detail the story of Molly’s life and remarks that Benjamin Banneker was a well-known and respected scientist and mathematician in his time.
While this book is more serious than the average picture book, it is a wonderful introduction into a past era full of customs and laws that will seem foreign and strange to today’s children. The story of hard work, however, is timeless. Children reading this story will see how Molly and her husband were able to provide for themselves and their family from their physical labor on their land and the knowledge they had gained from past experiences of work.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children
Note: This book was originally published in hardcover in 1999; the 2009 edition is paperback.