Independence Cake: A Revolutionary Confection Inspired by Amelia Simmons, Whose True History Is Unfortunately Unknown

Deborah Hopkinson, illus. by Giselle Potter. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (44p) ISBN 978-0-385-39017-0
Next to nothing is known about Amelia Simmons, whose American Cookery, published in 1796, was the first cookbook to be written by an American and to incorporate native ingredients. So Hopkinson (Steamboat School) and Potter (This Is My Dollhouse) create a lively backstory for this culinary revolutionary. Orphaned and sent to work as a housemaid for the frazzled Mrs. Bean, Amelia impresses with her unflappable demeanor and soon takes over the kitchen. “We are independent now,” she tells Mrs. Bean. “I want to learn good, plain American cookery and share recipes with my fellow citizens.” She wows the Bean children with cornmeal flapjacks and President Washington with a slice of Independence Cake created for his inauguration. Hopkinson’s text can be a little on the nose (“You’ve brightened our lives like a star on the flag,” says Mrs. Bean), but Potter’s signature rendering style is an ideal match for the subject matter, her flattened perspectives, understated expressions, and creamy colors harking back to 18th-century portraiture. Both budding chefs and those who happily (and patriotically) consume their handiwork will eat this up. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/06/2017
Release date: 05/09/2017
Library Binding - 44 pages - 978-0-385-39018-7
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