Society

Publisher Pulls Children’s Book Featuring George Washington’s Smiling Slave

| by Michael Allen
george washington book covergeorge washington book cover

Scholastic, a major book publisher, announced on Jan. 17 it is pulling a children's book, "A Birthday Cake for George Washington," because the book features a smiling slave, Hercules, making the cake.

At the end of the book, Hercules says, "An honor and a privilege, sir ... Happy birthday, Mr. President," notes The Huffington Post.

The book doesn't mention that Hercules escaped a year after he made the cake on Washington's next birthday.

The book was described as "highly problematic" by the School Library Journal, and an "incomplete, even dishonest treatment of slavery," by Kirkus Reviews.

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Activists from Black Lives Matter, librarians, petitions and social activist groups campaigned to have the book recalled in January.

Scholastic released statements by the book's author and editor, and its corporate heads to defend the book before finally pulling it.

Scholastic announced on its website:

"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can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn.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."

Sources: Scholastic, The Huffington Post / Photo credit: Amazon.com