Just in time for Presidents’ Day, a book for parents who want to teach their children that slavery, American style, wasn’t that bad.
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.
Aside from, you know, the problem of being slaves.
Jesus, did I just have to write that?
The second paragraph of the foreward suggests it was written by people on another planet and placed under the the first graph by robots.
Or the creeps at Scholastic were just bright enough to realize the book is – in modern parlance – problematic, but not bright enough to realize it shouldn’t have made it past the Send Reject Notice & Wash Hands stage.
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.
And on Washington’s 65th birthday, Hercules took advantage of the celebrations to show how happy and joyful he was to be a slave, by escaping.
But not Delia who belonged to Martha and died a slave, as did her two brothers.
(Belated aside – I’m sort of surprised the book was released on Jan. 6, rather than 15 or 18).