Scholastic has pulled a book about George Washington's slave chef after the company received backlash from critics who said the book attempts to spin slavery in a positive light.
The picture book "A Birthday Cake for George Washington," written by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, tells the story of the president's enslaved chef Hercules and his daughter Delia, according to NPR
. The pages depict a smiling Hercules and Delia taking joy in preparing a birthday cake for Washington.
But the story soon found a gaggle of critics, many of whom took to Amazon.com
to put the book on blast in the comments section. Roughly 78 percent of the more than 260 reviews gave the publication one star.
"It would seem 'Scholastic' books would know better than to publish FICTION for kids using a story that have (sic) real implications for their understanding of oppression," user Jada Phelps wrote in one Amazon.com comment. "How will this story shape the perception of chattel slavery in the mind of white children, black children, and other children of color?"
Another Amazon.com commenter added: "It's horrible and not historically accurate, please find a better alternative. 'Henry in a Box,' is a better book for young kids to understand slavery from a slave's point of view."
Scholastic announced over the weekend its plans to pull the book's distribution.
"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can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn," the company said in a statement
Editor Andrea Davis Pinkney, who is African-American and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, defended the book on Scholastic's blog
"In 'A Birthday Cake for George Washington,' the lives of enslaved people ― and the complex inequities of their bondage ― play a key role in the narrative," Pinkney wrote. "Through carefully curated research, 'A Birthday Cake for George Washington' presents an important slice of American history."
"It is based on the true story of Hercules, the president's cook. Hercules was one of over 300 African Americans enslaved by George and Martha Washington. Even though he was a slave, everyone knew and admired Hercules ― especially the president," she added.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.