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13 March, 2008

Book Review: In Search of Molly Pitcher by Linda De Pauw

Read and reviewed for Front Street Reviews

When eight grader Peggy McAllister reads about the Rattletop Award, a prize awarded to a graduating eighth grader for excellence in social studies, in her local paper, she knows, this is something she wants to win. So when her social studies teacher mentions the contest to his class, in conjunction with a required research paper as part of the class’s coursework, Peggy picks the name that draws her attention most from the list of possible paper subjects handed to the students.

Despite her teacher’s misgivings, Peggy decides to do her paper on a little known subject, the female revolutionary war hero Molly Pitcher. Peggy, with the help of her grandfather, and his friend - local historian Mrs. Spinner sets out on her research. Peggy finds that there is not a lot known about Molly Pitcher, the books she finds about her subject are few and varied from children’s literature to out of print and rare books. Armed with her box of index cards, Peggy finds herself tracking down information through old newspaper accounts, the few books with solid information, and records of first person testimony as she tries to separate fact from misinformation through the tangled records of the past. Will Peggy find enough to write a strong paper, and win the first Rattletop Award?

In Search of Molly Pitcher does several things with its story. The book introduces readers to how research is conducted, the differences between primary and secondary sources for information, and ways to keep research organized. The author’s interest and background as a historian shines through the story, and makes the book an enjoyable read. Searching for Molly Pitcher has a strong plot, which is an enjoyable one to read. It introduces a not as well known historical figure in a way that makes the history of her life exiting, and not boring. This is a great introduction to the Revolutionary War, and the process of researching and writing a research paper.

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