Yesha Callahan

Scholastic Pulls Children’s Book About George Washington’s Happy Slaves


Looks like Scholastic listened to all of the negative reviews and comments about its new book A Birthday Cake for George Washington

The book, written by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, is told through the eyes of Delia, young girl whose family is owned by America’s first president. According to the book, Delia’s father, Hercules is admired by the president and “takes great pride” in baking a cake for Washington, despite the fact that he’s also enslaved (and actually escapes in real life–which isn’t in the book). The story came under fire for ignoring the horrors of slavery and making it seem like Delia and Hercules had a wonderful life.

After many condemned A Birthday Cake for George Washington on social media–and wrote scores of negative reviews its Amazon page–Scholastic released a statement announcing it was stopping production of the book.

Scholastic is announcing today that we are stopping the distribution of the book entitled A Birthday Cake for George Washington, by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, and will accept all returns. 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can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn.

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.

Scholastic provides a wide variety of fiction and informational books and magazines which teachers, parents and children rely on, including many devoted to African American experience, history and culture.  We are also committed to providing books, magazines, and educational materials that portray the experience of all children, including those from diverse communities and backgrounds, and we will continue to expand that commitment through our global publishing channels.

Hopefully next time they’ll think twice before publishing a children’s book about slavery that is both historically inaccurate and offensive.

  1. January 18, 2016 - Reply

    Thank you, Scholastic, for taking the comments into account and taking action!

  2. January 18, 2016 - Reply

    It was inevitable for this to happen, because tons of people won’t going to tolerate this. Historical inaccuracies and the outright glamorization of slavery should never be tolerated. The legitimate outcry of people caused Scholastic to change. This situation should be an opportunity for anyone to learn more about history and to promote the essence of black cultural development.

    • January 18, 2016 - Reply

      Truth, to think that some people believed that the slaves were “happy” is like saying the Jews were “happy” during the Holocaust. Can you imagine someone writing a book with such profound ignorance?

      • January 18, 2016 - Reply


        Good Afternoon Sister. If someone wrote a similar book about the Holocaust, then people would protest in a mass number. The children book about G. Washington is disrespectful to us as black people. You’re correct Sister. It is a shame that our history has been minimized by others.

        • January 18, 2016 - Reply

          Good afternoon to you too, brother. Oh, they would protest and I’m willing to be the publishing company would probably go out of business or wish they had never insinuated such nonsense. They continue to disrespect us and our heritage because they are evil. I’m sick of it.

          • January 18, 2016 - Reply


            Yes, it would have went down like that. Scholastic wouldn’t dare do something like that to Jewish people or to Muslim people. Today is certainly a solemn day of reflection. So many Brothers and Sisters sacrificed their lives for us. That children’s book (which is now not being sold by Scholastic) is an insult not only to us, but to our black ancestors. I’m sick of the slander and the disrespect of our heritage too. We have every right to be outraged at the status quo. We will not be silent. Also, Dr. King was much more radical than what the mainstream media has shown of him. He wanted full employment, he supported anti-colonial movements in Africa, and he wanted an end to the Vietnam War too. Our heroes from Marcus Garvey to Ella Baker make up a strong part of the overall strength of our blackness.

    • January 18, 2016 - Reply

      i went on amazon and saw all of the negative reviews, i’m glad that it’s been pulled, they should have never even given this ill-conceived project a green light to proceed.

      • January 18, 2016 - Reply

        @hon3y b33

        Right on Sister. I knew that people in Amazon would criticize the children’s book. That project should have never been enacted in the first place.

      • January 18, 2016 - Reply

        @hon3y b33

        I saw it on Aljazeera America it came on my newsfeed.

  3. January 18, 2016 - Reply

    GOOD!! should have never released this garbage to begin with.

  4. January 18, 2016 - Reply

    Stay woke people they are literally trying to downplay the atrocities of slavery. Wasn’t there a textbook not to long ago that described slaves as “immigrant workers”…they are really working overtime to re-write history and brainwash people particularly the youth.

    • January 18, 2016 - Reply


      I remember that textbook story too Sister. One great black mother fought back against that evil textbook reference too. The struggle continues.

      • January 18, 2016 - Reply

        Exactly Truth, we need more people to stay woke while doing the due diligence of preserving our history and telling the truth about it without the fluff and sugarcoating like that Black mother and everyone who called attention to this book.

        • January 18, 2016 - Reply


          Great Point. We are certainly in a battle to preserve our institutions and cultural heritage Sister binks. What we are advocating is what many ethnic groups have done. I read about Polish, Irish, and Hispanic Museums in America. There are also African American museums too that promote black culture. Our history should never be whitewashed by anyone. Our black history is inspirational and unsung black heroes should be known too.

    • January 18, 2016 - Reply


      Thanks to that kid’s mom who found the stupid errors in the textbook. They are always trying to whitewash/sanitize history especially in regards to slavery.

  5. January 18, 2016 - Reply

    Don’t thank Scholastic. They are a publicly traded corporation and as
    such their first legal( not moral, that doesn’t figure in this at all)
    obligation is to return maximum profit for their shareholders. Thank
    the many people who saw this for what is was and vehemently spoke against
    it. Scholastic only pulled this piece of garbage from the shelves because they ran the numbers after seeing the blow back and decided it would hurt their bottom line.

    If they really cared they wouldn’t have published this tripe in the first
    place. Then they tried to be slick by having it written and illustrated by two women of color. People there is an agenda at play.

  6. January 18, 2016 - Reply

    So, how did this book even pass through the rough draft/editing, and collaboration meeting? I’ve never seen any idea brought to the table of any company and passed through on the first go without any criticism or remarks or changes…

    But I’ll acknowledge Scholastic for taking action… for now. Still smells iffy.

  7. January 18, 2016 - Reply

    LOL. Look at me, I’m a happy negro slave baking frosted cake for George Washington. Oh boy.

  8. January 18, 2016 - Reply

    They pulled the book thank goodness.

  9. January 19, 2016 - Reply

    “Hercules is admired by the president and “takes great pride” in baking a cake for Washington, despite the fact that he’s also enslaved (and actually escapes in real life–which isn’t in the book).”

    “And Hercules sho’ made the besssst poppyseed cake for Massa Washington. It had sooooo much opium in it, Massa Washington had to take a nap. Then Hercules ran out the back door with Delia, took a pair of horses, some clothes, and about 30 years back wages, and escaped to Canada. And they all lived HAPPILY EVER AFTER!”

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