A sneeze and a cow kicking over the milk launches this true tale of a 17-year-old dairymaid in England in 1683; Molly was subsequently accused of stealing her lordship’s milk and brought before a court. Sentenced to seven years of bondage in America, she then struck out on her own, staked a claim and raised tobacco. She bought an African slave named Bannaky, who taught her about irrigation and crop rotation; when they fell in love, she freed him so that they could be legally married. Molly eventually taught her grandson, the famed Benjamin Banneker, how to read and write. McGill’s telling is fine and sure, except for an unwieldy flashback in the beginning that explains a previous spilling of milk. Soentpiet adds to the drama of the story with bold, atmospheric paintings. The problem comes in the matching of text to art; the pacing, for children, is horrible at first, with a scene of Molly facing a courtroom of stone-faced men before she has even spilled the milk (the text to gets the courtroom mid- paragraph). Later, the scene of her working for someone else with two oxen is too similar to her striking out on her own with one ox; the scene of her realizing she can’t manage on her own shows several other people working alongside her. These don’t destroy the suspense, but will compromise the accessibility of the story for children. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-72287-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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With but a light sprinkling of names and dates, Myers condenses his Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary (1993) to picture- book length. Myers takes readers through his subject’s childhood and turbulent career, pausing for significant episodes (such as a white teacher’s suggestion that he’d be better off studying carpentry than law), supplying samples of his vivid rhetoric, and tracing his movement toward visions of a more inclusive, less violent revolution. Placing realistic portraits of X and other icons of the civil rights movement against swirling backdrops of faces and street scenes, Jenkins captures a sense of tumultuous times. What emerges most clearly is a portrait of a complex, compelling spokesman who was growing and changing up to the moment he was cut down. (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-027707-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1999

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