On “A Birthday Cake for George Washington”

Scholastic recently released A Birthday Cake for George Washington. Even before I tell you about it I imagine you can guess what’s happened after a few guesses.

The book is about Washington’s enslaved chef, Hercules. He’s baking a cake for Washington without sugar. His daughter is happy to assist him.

Therein lies the major issue people have had with the book. It depicts slaves as quite happy in their situation because the author labels these two as nearly free. Now Scholastic has stopped distributing the book. Which I think is the correct path forward.

They wrote the truth about slaves and the time period in an editor’s and author’s note. Which tells me they knew they’d done the book poorly. And they sought to clarify things outside its text without rewriting and illustrating everything all over again. Or they’re just clueless. Could be either one or both.

I don’t think kid’s books are inherently easier to write than other genres, but this definitely isn’t the right way to do it. Not even close.

What do you think of this book depicting slaves in such a positive light?