A children’s book which depicts the story of Washington’s head chef and slave Hercules as he tries to bake a birthday cake for his master, has been removed by publishing company Scholastic.
Scholastic describes the book A Birthday Cake for George Washington as: “Everyone is buzzing about the president’s birthday! Especially George Washington’s servants, who scurry around the kitchen preparing to make this the best celebration ever. Oh, how George Washington loves his cake! And, oh, how he depends on Hercules, his head chef, to make it for him. Hercules, a slave, takes great pride in baking the president’s cake. But this year there is one problem — they are out of sugar.
“This story, told in the voice of Delia, Hercules’s young daughter, is based on real events, and underscores the loving exchange between a very determined father and his eager daughter, who are faced with an unspoken, bittersweet reality. No matter how delicious the President’s cake turns out to be, Delia and Papa will not taste the sweetness of freedom.”
In a press release, Scholastics said: “While we have great respect for the integrity and scholarship of the author, illustrator, and editor, we believe that, without more historical background on the evils of slavery than this book for younger children can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn.
“We do not believe this title meets the standards of appropriate presentation of information to younger children, despite the positive intentions and beliefs of the author, editor, and illustrator.”
The children’s book was written by author Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, has over 100 one-star reviews on Amazon.com. Some of the one-star reviews include:
- I can’t believe people are celebrating a children’s story that depicts happy, joyful slaves. Horrible. Please don’t let your children read this.
- What are you people smoking!?!? It’s 2016 and Scholastic is publishing a book about George Washington’s slaves happily making him a cake????
- Imagine a children’s book about happy Jews baking a cake for Hitler. That would be insensitive. This book is the equivalent for African Americans.
- This is an abominable reflection of history and the lives of slaves. Only a racist could possibly want children to see this thing.
- Wow! How exciting to be enslaved and making a cake for the slaveholder. Better get it right or you could be sold, beat or killed! What better place for a child than enslaved in the kitchen of George Washington, one of the most prolific slave holders among presidents (shout out to Jefferson).