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George Washington, the nation’s first president, is the focus of a controversial new children’s book surrounding his birthday and slavery. The book depicts President Washington’s enslaved head chef as an overjoyed and prideful chef excited about making a birthday cake, which was far from the truth.

The Atlanta Blackstar reports:

A children’s book published by Scholastic depicting “happy and joyful” enslaved people has stirred outrage amongst both parents and educators.

A Birthday Cake for George Washington by Ramin Ganeshram and Vanessa Brantly-Newton is the story of Hercules, the President’s head chef, as he attempts to bake Washington a cake for his birthday celebration. The story, as told by Hercules’ daughter Delia, takes a turn for the worse as Hercules discovers there is no sugar in the cupboard.

An excerpt from the book reads:

“Everyone’s buzzing about the president’s birthday!

Especially George Washington’s servants, who scurry around the kitchen preparing to make this the best celebration ever. Oh, how George Washington loves his cake! And, oh, how he depends on Hercules, his head chef, to make it for him. Hercules, a slave, takes great pride in baking the president’s cake. But this year there is one problem – they’re out of sugar.”

The book claims it is based on true events. The front flap of the book states:

“This story, told in the voice of Delia, Hercules’s young daughter, is based on real events and underscores the loving exchange between a very determined father and his eager daughter, who are faced with an unspoken, bittersweet reality. No matter how delicious the president’s cake turns out to be, Delia and Papa will not taste the sweetness of freedom.”

According to the Blackstar, Hercules was in fact far from happy to cook for Washington and eventually escaped to freedom although he left his daughter behind.

There is currently a petition circulating from to have A Birthday Cake for George Washington removed from Amazon’s inventory.


Photo: Scholastic/Amazon