In 1730, ten-year-old Molly is a pickpocket on the London streets who is caught and sentenced to be banished to America. While waiting in prison for the trip to America, two gentlemen come to her cell and tell her that she is a “daughter of Israel” and when she gets to America she will be indentured to a Jewish family. Her mother died of smallpox when she was seven, and she has little memory of her heritage. Upon her arrival to America, the Bell family purchases her as an indentured servant until her twenty-first birthday. The family is very good to her, even teaching her to read, but Molly is determined to get back to the London she knows. Molly grudgingly learns about compassion, family, and the real meaning of freedom through her contact with an abused African slave. Some characters speak an old London dialect called Flash or Flash-cant, a secret language that thieves invented so they could hide what they are saying. There is a glossary at the end with the definitions of the words used in the book. Children should particularly enjoy this aspect of the book. This is an engaging novel for young readers, with historically accurate information about life in London and New York that is presented with all its complexity. It is particularly useful as an excellent introduction to the life of the Jews in New York at that time, and includes a map of New York in the 1730’s. This book was the winner of the manuscript award of the Association of Jewish Libraries. Ages 8 – 12.
Barbara Silverman had an M.L.S. from Texas Woman’s University. She worked as a children’s librarian at the Corpus Christi Public Libraries and at the Corpus Christi ISD before retiring. She worked as a volunteer at the Astor Judaic Library of the Lawrence Family JCC in La Jolla, CA. Sadly, Barbara passed away is 2012.