cover image A Feast of Freedom: Tasty Tidbits from the City Tavern

A Feast of Freedom: Tasty Tidbits from the City Tavern

Walter Staib, Jennifer Fox. Running Press Kids, 15.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-7624-3598-2

A who's who of patriots partied, dined, and plotted at Philadelphia’s City Tavern—it was the most happening place of the Revolutionary War era. Staib, the current chef, and Fox work diligently to make the most of this unusual window into American history, but they aren’t the most artful of historical popularizers (“Coffee wasn’t the only thing causing a stir by the late eighteenth century”); their prose shifts between several different voices—pedagogic, irreverent, romantic. Juarez fares far better. His images, mostly full-page paintings, tip a tricornered hat to (and sometimes lovingly spoof) the work of Gilbert Stuart and other colonial era artists. But he also adds a distinctly modern sculptural element (he’s worked as a 3-D animator) to the compositions; this gives the lighting and sense of space in each scene an intriguing depth, which in turn heightens the drama and intimacy of the action. The book throws in a mischievous mouse character to act as a reader surrogate among all the bewigged and waistcoat-wearing 18th-century celebrities, but it’s an unnecessary touch. Ages 4–8. (May)