They Called Her Molly Pitcher


The rousing true tale of an American Revolution heroine.

When her husband joined General Washington’s army, Molly Hays went with him. All through the winter at Valley Forge, Molly watched and listened. Then in July, in the battle at Monmouth, she would show how much she had learned. Molly could tell the day would be a scorcher, so she decided to bring water from a nearby spring to the fighting men. More than 50 British soldiers would die of heatstroke that day, but the American ...

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The rousing true tale of an American Revolution heroine.

When her husband joined General Washington’s army, Molly Hays went with him. All through the winter at Valley Forge, Molly watched and listened. Then in July, in the battle at Monmouth, she would show how much she had learned. Molly could tell the day would be a scorcher, so she decided to bring water from a nearby spring to the fighting men. More than 50 British soldiers would die of heatstroke that day, but the American soldiers need only cry, “Molly–pitcher!” On one trip through the fighting field, she saw her husband get shot. She satisfied herself that he wouldn’t die from his wound, then took over his job–firing off the cannon!

Molly epitomized the feisty, self-reliant spirit of the colonists who would soon win their battle for independence–and her story has rightly become a beloved legend of American history.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
George Washington made her a sergeant in the Continental Army for her bravery, and Rockwell (Only Passing Through) gives her star treatment in this stirring picture book biography. She's Mary (better known as Molly) Hays, and in 1777 she followed her husband to war and straight into the annals of American history. After surviving a winter at Valley Forge, Molly continued on with the remaining soldiers to the Battle of Monmouth (N.J.), fought on a sweltering June day. Molly spends the day fearlessly dodging cannon and musket fire to bring pitchers of water to heat-stricken soldiers and, later, manning the cannon left by her injured husband. Without sacrificing the dramatic momentum, the author also assesses the Americans' military tactics and training (or lack thereof) versus British expectations and mores (despite temperatures approaching 100 degrees, British soldiers wore fur hats and heavy wool suits). Rockwell finds opportunities for humor (in later life, it seems, the only fault her employers ever found with her was that she swore like a soldier) and for her own opinions (after Washington honors Molly, no soldier sneered at the thought of a woman being a sergeant in his army). Von Buhler (Little Girl in a Red Dress with Cat and Dog) works in a folk-art style, and flat perspectives, sturdy brushwork and light crackling effects give her paintings a colonial look. The type, unfortunately, can be difficult to read, set on a rustic, linen-like background a minor flaw in a memorable book. Ages 7-10. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
During the Revolutionary War some colonial women followed their men to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where they helped with cooking, cleaning, and nursing the sick. One such woman was Mary Hays who was nicknamed Molly. Under the leadership of George Washington the rag-tag army suffered from lack of supplies and training, but they excelled at guerilla warfare. At the battle of Monmouth the colonials and British clashed. The day was terribly hot and the British suffered in their uniforms, many succumbed to heat stroke. The colonials removed heavy clothing and were kept cool thanks to Molly. She had a pitcher with her and filled it repeatedly with cool water for the fighting men. When her husband was wounded she took up his position and fired the canon. Her perseverance and bravery soon gave her two more names. The men called her Molly Pitcher and Washington bestowed the rank of sergeant to her. There is no reason for young readers to be bored with history when it is presented in such an engaging manner. The meticulously detailed biography is written on linen and accompanied by glorious oil paintings that capture the emotion and fervor of battle. The legendary Molly Pitcher surely deserves a place in a social studies curriculum. 2002, Alfred A Knopf,
— Laura Hummel
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-Pitcher (whose real name was Mary "Molly" Hays) was the symbol of womanly strength during the American Revolution. Although much of her personal life is surrounded by legend now, her role in the Battle of Monmouth is historical. Following her husband into battle, she received her nickname by carrying a pitcher of cold water to wounded soldiers in need. The language is inviting, the story, exciting. Von Buhler's illustrations, which appear crackled, as if they were painted during this period, make the book shine. In one picture, a smudge-faced Molly is shown preparing a cannon for firing. The sole double-page spread is a battle scene that depicts the wounded and dying on both sides. There are no source notes, but Rockwell includes a brief time line and an author's note. More useful as a story than for report writing, this title is a solid choice for introducing the legendary American heroine to primary students.-Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Rockwell (Becoming Butterflies, p. 107, etc.) retells the inspiring story of a woman named Mary (Molly) Hays, who followed her husband into battle with General George Washington at Valley Forge and then at the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778. That day was brutally hot, and the wounded men would call out to Molly to bring them a pitcher of water. When Molly's own husband was wounded, she rammed powder into the cannon and kept firing. And so the heroic legend was born. The energetic text appears to be printed on linen, and though it is in very small type for this format, it's a pleasure to read. The illustrations, in a style echoing early American primitive art are as vibrant in color and spirit. Treated to appear old, the paintings portray the intense cold of Valley Forge and the smoky heat of the New Jersey fields. One double-paged spread gloriously depicts the confusion of hand-to-hand combat with one wounded soldier held in the arms of another a la Michelangelo's Pieta. A sturdy and determined Molly, a heroic Washington on horseback calmly watching over his exhausted troops bedded down for the night, a painting of the battlefield, and endpapers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution add to the patriotic and feminist mood. Fascinating history to share with young enthusiasts. (author's note, brief timeline) (Nonfiction. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553112535
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 8/22/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 278,168
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.10 (w) x 8.49 (h) x 0.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Rockwell has been an innovator in children’s books for nearly 30 years.

Cynthia von Buhler’s illustrations have appeared in books, magazines, and on
CD covers.

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