A children’s picture book has caused such a tidal wave of outrage and criticism that Scholastic has decided to completely pull the book from shelves. Parents are outraged that A Birthday Cake for George Washington, which depicts African-American slaves happily baking a birthday cake for our first president, was even printed in the first place.
The book, written by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (a notable African-American illustrator), tells the story of George Washington’s real-life head chef, Hercules, and his daughter Delia, as they attempt to make the perfect cake for their master.The Amazon reviews for the book are rife with harsh criticism. “A highly problematic work; not recommended,” the School Library Journal states, while another reviewer says, “Why would anyone think this was a good idea for children's book? Another example of whitewashing history.”
Although A Birthday Cake for George Washington has only been in circulation for a few weeks, Scholastic has already responded to the backlash by halting distribution:
“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can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn,” Scholastic said in a statement.