Monday, June 19, 2017

Independence Cake by Deborah Hopkinson ADVISABLE

Hopkinson, Deborah Independence Cake : A Revolutionary Confection Inspired by Amelia Simmons whose true history is unfortunately unknown, illustrated by Giselle Potter PICTURE BOOK.  Schwartz & Wade (Random House) 2017. $17.99. Content: G.  

Amelia Simmons wrote the first American cookbook.  That’s really all we know about her.  Hopkins and Giselle have put together a fictional story of what her life may have been like: orphaned, taken on by a widow with several children and expected to do a lot of chores to earn her keep.  Especially talented in the kitchen, the women of the town encourage her to make cake for George Washington.  

I had a difficult time deciding how I felt about this book.  It's a biography that doesn’t have any source material, but the authors are completely up front with the fact that it’s not really her story.  Why not, then, just write a story about a colonial girl who makes cakes?  I handed it to our American History teacher to get his perspective.  He loved it! Why? Because it shows how much work a woman did just to keep a home, and then, someone important like Amelia Simmons is lost to history because, being a woman, she wasn’t important enough to bother keeping records about her achievements.  Where would our founding fathers have been without the women who supported them.  He’s using this in his class next year.  

EL (K-3), MS - ADVISABLE  Lisa Librarian

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