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Molly Bannaky

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  250 ratings  ·  51 reviews
On a cold gray morning in 1683, Molly Walsh sat on a stool tugging at the udder of an obstinate cow. When she spilled the milk, she was brought before the court for stealing. Because she could read, Molly escaped the typicalpunishment of death on the gallows. At the age of seventeen, the English dairymaid was exiled from her country and sentenced to work as an indentured s ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 27th 1999 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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Gordon Pennington
Dec 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-book
Molly’s job is to get up early in the morning to milk the cow. Her clothes are old and baggy. She is at the bottom of the social ladder. One day, the cow she was milking kicked the bucket of milk over, so she had no milk to take to the kitchen. The cook told her if she stole the milk again she would be fired, even though she did not steal it. On another day, she sneezed and the cow kicked over the bucket again. By the end of the day, she was in front of the court. They gave her a Bible (if she c ...more
Laura Hartje
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
beautiful illustrations
Kayla Lazenby
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Genre: Non-Fiction
Format: Children's Picture Book
Award: Jane Adams CHildren's Book Award

Summary: A dairy maid, turned Servant, named Molly Walsh, is finely freed after her sentencing had been fulfilled. As she is starting her new free life, she is in need of help on her acres of land. She purchases a slave with whom she falls in love with. Many years and children later, Mr. Bannaky passed away. Leaving behind his wife and children, he was born a grandson. His grandson would learn to read and w
Lisa Rathbun
Mar 06, 2016 rated it liked it
The topic was interesting (especially since I had just been reading about Benjamin Bannaker!) and the pictures are exquisite, but I found the writing itself lacking. For example, the cow spilled the milk, and the book says, "Before the sun set that day, Molly stood before the court." MAYBE that's true, but it seems a bit far fetched. I noticed the same thing when Molly gains her freedom and looks across acres and acres of available land only to find her property before sunset that very same day. ...more
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Despite the fact that it's oversize, which doesn't suit library shelves or intended audience, despite the fact that the author's note doesn't give sources, further reading, any details like that, despite the fact that the progression of the story is oversimplified and the writing methodical, I do recommend this. It gives a portrait of a time in history that is not well-known, and aspects of some of the laws, customs, and characters of the ppl that are often not explained.

For example, how many c
I went into this story blind and I found it to be a very nice read.
This meets my criteria for a good children's book: good art, good story, and I learned something. ...more
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have long admired Benjamin Banneker, the highly regarded scientist and mathematician who helped survey the planned city of Washington, D.C., so I was delighted to find this story about his grandmother.

[Benjamin Banneker was the first black man to publish an almanac, which he did from the years 1792 to 1802. He also wrote to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson objecting to the injustice of slavery, and enclosed one of his almanacs. At first Jefferson regarded Banneker’s intelligence as an exce
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting woman and family, and lovely pictures. Make sure to read the note about her grandson in the back.
Feb 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Title: Molly Bannaky
Author: Alice McGill
Illustrator: Chris K. Soentpiet
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Year originally published:1999
Translator (if applicable):
Approximate Interest Level/Reading Level: Ages 5-8
Format (picture book, audio book, book read online, chapter book/novel, graphic novel): Picture book
Rating system: ****
Brief summary: Relates how Benjamin Bannaky’s grandmother journeyed from England to Maryland in the late seventeenth century, worked as an indentured servant, began a farm of
Jul 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nichole Sedler
Dec 12, 2007 added it
Recommends it for: Grades 2-5
Written by Alice McGill, illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet, published by Houghton Mifflin, copyright year 1999.

Summary: A 17 year old dairy maid is put on trial for spilling a pail of milk but eventually her life is spared because she can read the Bible. She is sent to America to be a servant in Maryland. When she is freed she tries to start her own farm and hires a slave who she falls in love with and marries. The dairymaid is the grandmother of Benjamin Banneker. She teaches her grandson to r
Katie Fleming
Sep 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"Molly Bannaky" by Alice McGill has a tremendous amount of lessons involved. I thought this book was great because it shows what life was like in the late 17th century. Not only does it show the hardship, but it also shows a strong woman who was able to overcome slavery and become successful. Molly, who was an indentured servant from England married Bannaky, who was her slave from Africa. She treated him kind and fairly. This book has many great historical and kind elements involved. I really en ...more
In 1683, Molly Bannaky sailed across the ocean to America to work as an indentured servant for 7 years as punishment for "stealing the lord's milk". In reality, the milk was accidentally spilled on the manor in which she was working.

After her 7 years of service, she was set free and claimed land on which to farm. Realizing it was too difficult to manage the land alone, she bought a servant off a slave ship. Eventually the two fell in love and prospered together on their land.

Molly Bannaky is t
Amar Pai
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-books
A very well told and illustrated historical tale that I think is based on a true story--an Englishwoman condemned to labor then freed in America sets up her own homestead and marries a slave. Very mature themes, probably too much if your kid isn't up for a discussion of slavery in America, indentured servitude, lords and peasants, that kind of thing. But I found it very interesting and my 6 year old did as well. ...more
Feb 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
I thought this was an awesome book. I think that Molly Bennaky wise to marry her husband(I forgot his name) because if not, they wouldn't have an amazing son or daughter that had Benjamin Bannecker, her grandson who's very talented! I recommend this book for anyone who likes autobiography because it talks about Molly's life but someone else wrote and not Molly. ...more
Mariah Eshelman
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: october-31
I enjoyed this book as well. She had to work to pay for her mistakes. Once she was set free, she bought a slave to work for her. They fell in love which was not right in that time. They had four daughters, and then their father passed away. This book went very fast for how much happened and I feel like there could have been more detail. I still thought it was a great book.
Oct 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: young history buffs
Shelves: childrensbooks
The not-widely-known story of Benjamin Banneker's grandparents: a white, indentured servant woman sent from England for her "crime" and the African slave who helped her survive and with whom she fell in love. Gr. 3-7. ...more
Connie T.
Jan 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
What an inspiring story! Why isn't Molly held up as a role model along with Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, and Anne Frank? Surely she persevered and rose above the difficulties life threw at her. This short book packs one hell of a punch! ...more
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lcrt
I was captivated by the story of Molly Bannaky. I had never heard about her before and it was amazing to hear about where she came from and her legacy. She is a strong role-model for girls. This could be used to teach about Colonial times, historical fiction, and biographies.
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've used this title many times with middle schoolers and children but it also would appeal to adults. The story is unique but still very relevant. Each reader will find something different but important to focus on. ...more
Crystal Chapman
May 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mommy-and-me
Awesome! A great way to introduce a piece of history to your child. Surprised even me. My prince loved it.
Jul 01, 2010 marked it as to-read
Shelves: illustrators
Illustrator Chris K. Soentpiet.
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-reader
this is a picture book, but has really big ideas about indentured servants, early colonization of north america, and mixed marriages. I LOVE THIS BOOK. PARTICULARLY because it's true! ...more
Stacy  Natal
Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Great way to introduce some American history to the kids. It's a short book, but the themes can lead to long discussions! ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing

A gob smacking reminder of the kind of fluidity, equality, and opportunity that was once possible in early American history before certain cultural norms became set in stone.

Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A very inspiring true story of a slave girl who one day had a grandson who became the famous Benjamin Banneker.
Mary Foxe
My Mom read this to me when I was younger. The images of the story stayed with me for years. I just found it again and found out that I had recently listened to a podcast talking about her grandson.
Laura Hodgins
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s, history
Beautiful illustrations and fascinating true story.
Esther Jones
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Set in the early days of Colonial America, this beautifully illustrated children's storybook explores the past of indentured servitude that brought Molly (the grandmother of the renowned Benjamin Banneker) to America where she met the kidnapped African prince who became her husband.

This book made an impression on me the very first time my family read it together, and I've never forgotten what an amazing tale it is. Every family should read this at least once.
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