|Independence Cake : a revolutionary confection inspired by Amelia Simmons, whose true history is unfortunately unknown|
Author: Hopkinson, Deborah
In this fictional story, Amelia Simmons, writer of the first American cookbook, creates an Independence Cake in 1789 to offer the newly elected President, George Washington.
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|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: .5 Quiz: 196338
Kirkus Reviews (03/01/17)
School Library Journal (04/01/17)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 04/01/2017 In 1789, an orphan goes to live with Mrs. Bean and her six sons, to help with household chores. Amelia Simmons washes clothes, scrubs pots, picks apples, feeds chickens, gathers eggs, spins, knits, sews, quilts, weaves, and hoes. She teaches herself to read and learns to cook exceedingly well. When the town wishes to honor General Washington after his election, Amelia bakes 13 Independence Cakes and presents a slice to the incoming president, who proclaims it, “Delicious!” The book’s inviting introduction and informative author’s note explain that little is known of Simmons, the first American to write a cookbook (American Cookery, 1796), except that she calls herself an orphan. Perhaps somewhat restrained by choosing a little-known historical figure, Hopkinson fictionalizes Amelia as a paragon of virtue and adds enough convincing details to make the story plausible, if rather bland. Painted in a style that suits the period, Potter’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations have the charm of folk art and, in depicting the boys’ antics, add action to the story. A pretty picture book featuring an obscure historical figure. - Copyright 2017 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 04/01/2017 Gr 3–5—Just as cooks wash their hands before they get to work, so does Hopkinson come clean about this story: Amelia Simmons, the writer of the first American cookbook, did exist, but almost everything else in the following pages is a delightful concoction based on the scant details known about her life. Amelia describes herself as "an American orphan": her father is imagined to be a fallen soldier; her mother, a victim of smallpox; and Amelia, a "bound girl" taken in by a large family to help with the household. She learns to cook English dishes and eventually creates new recipes using local ingredients, such as winter squash for pudding and cornmeal for flapjacks. Culinary parallels to the Revolutionary War are cleverly woven throughout, and the watercolor and ink illustrations, relying on a delectable, warm palette, depict red apples, pumpkins, lemons, pickles, and sacks of grain. Though the details are made up, Amelia is still an inspiring character, so much so that readers may even want to tackle the "independence cake" recipe, with its 20 pounds of flour and 15 pounds of sugar. An author's note and links for modern versions of Election Day cakes are also included. VERDICT A strange but appealing bit of Americana that might fit into some history and maker units. Like most confections, it's an additional but nonessential purchase.—Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library - Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.