Looks like Scholastic listened to all of the negative reviews and comments about its new book A Birthday Cake for George Washington.
The book, written by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, is told through the eyes of Delia, young girl whose family is owned by America’s first president. According to the book, Delia’s father, Hercules is admired by the president and “takes great pride” in baking a cake for Washington, despite the fact that he’s also enslaved (and actually escapes in real life–which isn’t in the book). The story came under fire for ignoring the horrors of slavery and making it seem like Delia and Hercules had a wonderful life.
After many condemned A Birthday Cake for George Washington on social media–and wrote scores of negative reviews its Amazon page–Scholastic released a statement announcing it was stopping production of the book.
Scholastic is announcing today that we are stopping the distribution of the book entitled A Birthday Cake for George Washington, by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, and will accept all returns. 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can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn.
Scholastic has a long history of explaining complex and controversial issues to children at all ages and grade levels. 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.
Scholastic provides a wide variety of fiction and informational books and magazines which teachers, parents and children rely on, including many devoted to African American experience, history and culture. We are also committed to providing books, magazines, and educational materials that portray the experience of all children, including those from diverse communities and backgrounds, and we will continue to expand that commitment through our global publishing channels.
Hopefully next time they’ll think twice before publishing a children’s book about slavery that is both historically inaccurate and offensive.