Over the past few days, A Birthday Cake for George Washington, the new picture book by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, has generated an important discussion about the depiction of slavery in children’s books. At Scholastic, we value the opinions and feedback from our community, and we appreciate your comments and respect your views on this complex matter.
We hope that you will take the time to read both the author’s comments and the editor’s comments which address many of your concerns and provide more information on why the author, Ramin Ganeshram, chose to depict the characters as she did. Ganeshram is a leading scholar in the field of Washingtonian history—and the mother of a school-aged daughter—who spent years researching the life of Hercules, George Washington’s enslaved chef and the person on whom this book is based. In her comments linked above, she explains the choices she made for the book.
Because we know that no single book will be acceptable to every reader, we offer many other books and resources that address slavery and Black history here and here.