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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

George Washington Children Picture Book Pulled After Criticism.

A children's picture book about George Washington and his slaves
has been pulled by publishers Scholastic.
A Birthday Cake for George Washington tells the story of Washington's slave Hercules, a cook, and his daughter.
It had been criticised for its images of smiling slaves, and described as being "highly problematic".
Scholastic said in a statement that without more historical context, the book "may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves".
The book, telling the story of Hercules and Delia making a cake together, had been released on 5 January. 

It was met with a barrage of one-star reviews on Amazon, with readers describing it as "disgustingly inaccurate", and one writing: "I can't believe people are celebrating a children's story that depicts happy, joyful slaves."
Scholastic's description of the story had read: "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."

Author Ramin Ganeshram and illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton had written about the historical context in notes accompanying the story, but were criticised for not having included it in the main narrative.

Trade journal Kirkus said children could be left with a "sorely incomplete understanding of both the protagonists' lives and slavery itself" if adults did not read them the additional material.
Scholastic said in the statement: "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can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn."
They added that they "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." 
Source: BBC

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