Remember that time in U.S. history when — in between brutal beatings, rapes, and killings — slaves were cheerfully cooking and baking for their masters? No? Luckily, one author does and wrote a children’s book about it. Unfortunately for her, that book is now the subject of major controversy.
Scholastic Books has pulled A Birthday Cake for George Washington amid controversy that it glamorizes slavery. Released January 5 and written by Ramin Ganeshram with illustrations from Vanessa Brantley-Newton, the picture book tells the story of a “servant” named Hercules and his daughter Delia gleefully preparing a birthday cake for President Washington. While a slave named Hercules forced to cook for Washington existed, Ganeshram’s version, which she says is based on real events, is widely inaccurate, as pointed out by a number of one-star reviews on Amazon.
With all the backlash, Scholastic pulled the book for possibly “giving a false impression of the reality of slaves.”
“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can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn,” the children’s publisher said in a statement released to the AP.
Scholastic is also accepting all returns from parents who purchased A Birthday Cake for George Washington. Parents who still wish to get a copy of the problematic book can try Amazon, where it’s currently the No. 1 “Children’s Colonial American Historical Fiction” best-seller.