In Search of Molly Pitcher
By Linda Grant De Pauw
Peacock Press (Pasadena, Maryland) 2007
This is a YA (Young Adult) book, and I seldom read YA books, but when I received an email with a blurb about this book, I decided that this looked far too interesting to pass up. It turned out to be the right decision.
Molly Pitcher is a woman in the Revolutionary War who supposedly was passing water to the men on the cannon at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. The water was for the cannon - helping the rammer to keep the ram wet, so they can ram (push) the gunpowder and ball down the cannon mouth before it was fired. When her husband was killed at the cannon, Molly stepped in and took over the ramming duties and stayed there for several hours until the battle was won.
However, the question remains. Was Molly Pitcher a real woman or was she just a myth?
When Peggy McAllister learns about an eighth grade social studies award, she is
determined to win it. When she chooses Molly Pitcher, the legendary heroine of the
Revolutionary War Battle of Monmouth, as the subject for her research paper she runs
into difficulties. With the help of her Greatgramps, a retired private investigator, his lady friend Mrs. Spinner, historian and author of historical romances, and Ms. Guelphstein, a dedicated reference librarian, Peggy sorts through a maze of confusing and contradictory evidence as she uncovers the true story of Molly Pitcher.
Peggie learns how to look for sources, how to make footnotes, how to write a bibliography. She learns the difference between Primary sources and Secondary sources, and she learns how to choose good sources and what evidence to reject as she searches for the truth about Molly Pitcher. The chapter called The Detective's Summation is the summary of all of Peggy's research.
This is not a thick book. Only 155 pages and I read it straight through in 90 minutes. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I fervently wished that I had had the chance to do such an interesting history research project, and to learn such interesting information when I was at school. It might have made the difference between me falling in love with bibliography (just last year) in my 40's or going to University and studying it when I was 20.
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