A Fine Dessert

a_fine_dessert

A Fine Dessert
by Emily Jenkins
Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Readers Theater

Book Trailer

Author & Illustrator Video

 TLA Statement on A Fine Dessert

Related Activities & Resources:

Author Information:
Publishers Weekly Q & A with Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-authors/article/65362-q-a-with-emily-jenkins-and-sophie-blackall.html

Curled Up  With a Good Kid’s Book – Tanya Boudreau interviews Emily Jenkins: http://www.curledupkids.com/intervue/intjenkins.html

Horn Book – Five questions for Emily Jenkins: http://www.hbook.com/2013/05/authors-illustrators/five-questions-for-emily-jenkins/

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog interview with Emily Jenkins:
http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=472

MacMillan Publishers Bio of Emily Jenkins:
http://us.macmillan.com/author/emilyjenkins

The Compulsive Reader Interview with Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinksy:
http://www.compulsivereader.com/2015/09/05/interview-with-with-emily-jenkins-and-paul-o-zelinsky/

Quill Ink interview with Emily Jenkins:
http://lorivanhoesen.blogspot.co.uk/2009/02/interview-with-emily-jenkins.html

Writing and Ruminating-An interview with Emily Jenkins for the WBBT:
http://kellyrfineman.livejournal.com/350558.html

Hamline University-Bio of Emily Jenkins:
http://www.hamline.edu/faculty/emily-jenkins.html

Illustrator Information:
Missed Connections: The Rumpus Interview with Sophie Blackall:
http://therumpus.net/2010/05/missed-connections-the-rumpus-interview-with-sophie-blackall/

Brain Pickings – Illustrator Sophie Blackall on Subversive Storytelling, Missed Connections and Optimism:
https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/02/18/sophie-blackall-debbie-millman-interview/

JUANA Children’s Illustrator – A Mini-interview with Sophie Blackall:
http://juanamartinezneal.com/blog/2013/12/03/a-mini-interview-with-sophie-blackall/

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast – Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Sophie Blackall:
http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=1392

Don Tate Interviews Sophie Blackall:
http://dontate.com/2016/01/pre-ny16scbwi-interview-sophie-blackall/

Book Page-Angela Leeper Interview of Sophie Blackall:
http://bookpage.com/interviews/8940-sophie-blackall#.VpVzK1JH5dA

A Difference of Opinion:
Readers use their own lens of personal experience, history, and knowledge when they open a book. Everyone reads something different in a book as viewed through this personal lens. A Fine Dessert has stirred a lot of discussions nationally about racial sensitivity and the role of books in such issues. How does literature help bring people together? How does a historical narrative successfully combine past and present perspectives?

Below is a list of articles you may wish to read which discuss issues surrounding this title. Please read the book in its entirety including the note from the author at the end of the book explaining her purpose in writing A Fine Dessert and how she chose to address the slavery issue.

SLJ-Emily Jenkins Apologizes for A Fine Dessert:
http://www.slj.com/2015/11/industry-news/emily-jenkins-apologizes-for-a-fine-dessert/

Trybrary – A Fine Dessert: Sweet Intentions, Sour Aftertaste:
https://trybrary.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/a-fine-dessert-sweet-intentions-sour-aftertaste/

American Indians In Children’s Literature blog – Not Recommended: A Fine Dessert:
http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/2015/10/not-recommended-fine-dessert-by-emily.html

Code Switch The Kids’ Book A Fine Dessert Has Award Buzz and Charges of Whitewashing Slavery:
http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/10/30/452037088/the-kids-book-a-fine-dessert-has-award-buzz-and-charges-of-whitewashing-slavery

The New York Times – A Fine Dessert: Judging a Book By the Smile of a Slave:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/07/books/a-fine-dessert-judging-a-book-by-the-smile-of-a-slave.html?_r=0

Activities:
On a map find Lyme, England, Charleston, South Carolina, Boston, Massachusetts, and San Diego, California.

How to milk a cow:
https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=how+to+milk+a+cow&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-002

Where does cream come from?
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Heavy-Cream

How to make whipped cream (1:24):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2fFcjwvTWs

Make whipped cream using a bundle of clean, soft twigs.

A brief history of the Whisk:
http://www.thekitchn.com/a-brief-history-of-the-whisk-the-new-york-times-178897

Berry toss:
The girl in Lyme, England throws berries and catches them with her mouth. Have a toss and catch contest. If you choose to toss berries to catch use large trash bags to cover clothing and the floor as the berry juice will stain. You may choose to do this with popcorn.

How to grow blackberries:
http://www.almanac.com/plant/blackberries

Blackberry Nutrition Facts:
http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/blackberries.html

Texas Blackberries:
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/extension/fruit/Blackberries/blackberries.html

How to Make Purple dye:
http://www.ehow.com/how_5139698_make-purple-dye.html

The History of Refrigeration:
http://www.history-magazine.com/refrig.html

How to remove berry stains:
http://home.howstuffworks.com/how-to-remove-berry-stains.htm

Some of the families used straw or cork as insulation to keep the blocked ice from melting. Which is the better insulator? Test out your theory.

Life in the plantation south-class divisions-U.S. History:
http://www.ushistory.org/us/5e.asp

Life 2, 3 and 4 hundred years ago was difficult. People had to go to the stream or a well to get water. Have students carry a bucket of water 100 feet to see what is was like.

Work in Colonial America: Blacksmith:
http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/nchist-colonial/5998

Colonial African American Life:
http://www.history.org/almanack/people/african/aaintro.cfm

Research the history of running water in homes.

How Lodge cast iron is made (11:21):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cqmsafbNUM

History of cardboard (5:00):
http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4912642_how-cardboard-made.html

How a cardboard box is made-The Manufacturer:
http://www.themanufacturer.com/articles/how-a-cardboard-box-is-made/

e-how-How cardboard is made:
http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4912642_how-cardboard-made.html

Video of history of pasteurization(2:51):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OmWbRKW4K8

What happens when raw and pasteurized milk are left to rot?(5:23):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYY73O0FkEY

Pasteurization (click on the icons to explore):
http://mocomi.com/pasteurization/

Pasteurized vs. Homogenized:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/22/pasteurized-homogenized-milk_n_5606168.html

Heat treatments and pasteurization:
http://www.milkfacts.info/Milk%20Processing/Heat%20Treatments%20and%20Pasteurization.htm

What is organic (4:28):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BebNsezt6r0

Organic food (2:26):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhIZWhJtY8w

How does an electric mixer work?
http://www.ehow.com/how-does_5696072_electric-hand-mixer-operate_.html

When were electrical outlets first put into homes?

The food timeline:
www.foodtimeline.org

Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project:
http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/cookbooks/

The recipe at the end of the book says to whip the cream into soft peaks and fold the berries into the cream. What does it mean to fold the berries? Look up the cooking terms.

Make blackberry fool using the recipe at the end of the book.

The illustrator used the juice from the blackberries to paint the endpapers of the book. Take the juice from different fruits and paint a picture.

Resources on Slavery and the African American Experience:
Books for children on slavery recommended by PBS:
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/slavery/resources/kids.html

Slave life on plantations:
Slave life on a southern plantation:
http://www.lee.k12.nc.us/cms/lib03/NC01001912/Centricity/Domain/1464/Slave%20Life%20on%20a%20Southern%20Plantation.pdf

Understanding Slavery Initiative:
http://www.understandingslavery.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=309&Itemid=221

Conditions of antebellum slavery-PBS:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2956.html

Living conditions of slaves by PBS:
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/slavery/experience/living/history2.html

Plantation life of slaves-from the American Abolitionism:
http://americanabolitionist.liberalarts.iupui.edu/plantation_life.htm

Slave life and codes on the plantation:
http://www.ushistory.org/us/27b.asp

First hand accounts by slaves:
Growing up in slavery- an excellent description from slave Fannie Moore:
http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/bhistory/underground_railroad/children.htm

Index of slaves narratives from the federal writers’ project. Click on view page images to read the whole narrative and not just part:
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/mesnbibnarrindex.html

Slave narratives from the federal writers’ project-excellent source of information. Make sure to continue to click to read more as it will only give a paragraph or two but if you click more you will has several pages of narrative from each slave:
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snhome.html

Discussion Questions:

Which of the four centuries mentioned in the book would you most want to live in and why? Which would you least want to live in and why?

The little girl helping pick the blackberries is tossing them in the air trying to catch them with her mouth. If you were helping pick berries how many would go in the bucket and how many might find their way into your mouth? Does this make the picking more fun?

Look at the blackberry vines on the plantation and the ones from England. Compare the vines. What is the difference?

Look at the clothing from the four centuries. How has it changed and how has it stayed the same? Would you like to dress in some of those outfits? Explain.

The mother in England is carrying her baby while she picks berries. Would this be typical today? Do you think there were babysitters back then? Why or why not?

Why do you think the home in the picture from England has two chimneys?

In the pictures some of the berries are black, others red. Why?

Why does beating cream turn it into whipped cream?

Would you still make and eat whipped cream if you had to beat it for 15 minutes to make it?

Of the four families which do you think enjoyed the dessert the most? Would you enjoy something you had to really work at to get the most or something that was easy to get? Why?

Have you ever had to work really hard to make a favorite food? Was it worth it? Would you still make it often? Why?

In each century the author adds the same phrase, ‘even the baby had some’. Why do you think the author included this phrase? What was she trying to say?

What does the saying ‘many hands make light work’ mean? How could this be applied to making whipped cream?

How long do you think it would take to make this dessert if you had to go outside to haul the water, find a berry patch and pick the berries, milk the cow, get the cream and then whip the cream and cool it inside a hill? Everything took longer centuries ago. With so many other chores to do would this dessert be a special occasion dessert or common?

In England the daughter licked the spoon. Do all mothers let their children lick the spoon? What does your mother let you lick off a spoon?

Look at the faces of the mother and child in the berry patch in all four scenarios? Are the expressions the same or different? Why? What do you think they are thinking about and feeling? How can you tell?

The mother in England carried the mixture to an ice pit in the hillside What is an ice pit? Why was the winter ice packed with reeds and straw?

After supper the mother and daughter served the dessert to the father and older brothers. Why do you think the females did the serving? Was this typical of families in the 1700’s?

Do you think everyone in a family should know how to cook and help with the cooking, serving, and cleaning up duties? Explain. What do you think would have happened if there were male and female guests over for supper during the 1700 and 1800’s and a male got up to help? What do you think the guests would have said and thought?

What is a plantation and would you like to live on one?

A metal whisk was made by a blacksmith. What else do blacksmith’s make? Is there anything in your kitchen that was at one time made by a blacksmith?

The daughter on the plantation holds up the bowl of whipped cream she made and smiles. Who is she smiling at and why? Have you ever smiled and showed your mother or some other adult something that you accomplished that was hard for you? Were you proud of what you did?

In England and in Boston the girls smash the berries with their hands but not on the plantation or in modern times. Do you think using your hands or a spoon is more effective? Which would be more fun? Why?

On the plantation the mixture is put in a wooden box in the basement. The box was stacked with blocks of ice, lined with lead and insulated with cork. Why was it lined with lead? Which is the better insulator-straw or cork? Why do you think this?

On the plantation the mother and daughter both lick the spoon. Would it be more fun to lick the spoon with your mother? Have you ever both done it? Why would it be more fun? They were in a closet. Why do you think they were in the closet? Do you think they would have gotten in trouble had the plantation owners known they were there licking the spoon? Explain. Have you ever found a cubby hole to have a private moment with a family member? What did you do and how did you feel? There are times when we sneak away to our own secret place. Do you have a secret place and what do you do there?

On the plantation the young boy slave is pulling a rope at the dinner table. Why?

In Boston the mother and daughter buy their berries at an open-air market. What is an open-air market and do we have them today? What are they called today? Is the food bought at an open-air market better than at a grocery store? Which is fresher? Explain.

Notice the homes in Boston. Why do you think they homes are all connected? What is the purpose? Would you want to live in this type of home? It is not an apartment.

On the plantation the cream was delivered in cans. In Boston it was delivered in glass bottles. Is glass an improvement? Explain.

The Boston family has a whisk with a gear and handle for turning. How does this change the effort? What do you use today that has a gear? (ten speed bike)

This Boston mom uses a recipe book. Why? Does she not know how to make it? When was the first recipe book written? Published? Before recipe books how did women learn to make certain dishes?

The rotary beaters were cast-iron. What is cast-iron? Do we still use cast-iron in our kitchen today? Can you name some items? What are the advantages of using cast-iron?

The Boston mom made the whipped cream in 5 minutes. Notice the face of the mom. Compare her face while whipping the cream to the other two centuries of women.

The Boston girl drew water from the new faucet in the kitchen. When did homes get indoor plumbing and running water? The girl from the 1700’ s and 1900’s smashed the berries with their fingers but not in the 1800’s. Why do you think they went back to using their fingers?

The girl in Boston licks the spatula. When were spatulas invented?

The wooden box in the Boston home was stocked with blocks of ice they had delivered each day? Would you want the job of delivering ice? Where do you think the delivery man got the ice? How come the ice only lasted one day? What would the box have to be insulated with for the ice to last longer? A block of ice in a camping trailer ice box can last up to a week. What is the difference?

The Boston girl ran her tongue along the inside of the bowl. Have you ever been aloud to lick the bowl with your tongue? Do you think the girl’ s mom would approve? Explain.

Compare the homes, clothing and meals from the four time periods. How are they different and similar to our time? Is there anything about the old ways that you think is better? Explain.

The boy and his dad buy two cardboard boxes of blackberries. The century before the boxes were made of wood. When was cardboard invented and how is it made? Which is better for our environment? Why?

The boy and his dad buy pasteurized organic cream. What is the difference between organic cream and regular cream and why do people buy it? Would you buy it since organic foods cost more? Explain.

The man printed out a recipe from the internet. Do people still buy cookbooks? Which do you use most for recipes and why? If the internet gives 100’s of recipes for one dish is it hard to choose? Do you save recipes you print out or throw them away? Which is best for the environment?

The boy beat the cream for 2 minutes using an electric mixer. The dad crushed them in a food processor.  Name how many things we use in our kitchens the pioneers, colonists and others didn’t have even 100 years ago? Why do you think all these things were invented in the last 100 years? Why not earlier? Explain.

How would your life be different today without electricity? What would you do for fun today without it?

The dad and son have an interracial family over to share a meal. Explain what has happened through the centuries that had made this possible. Can you name major events in our country’s history that have shaped the way we view races today?

Explain how the civil rights movement has affected things other than race? (religion, ageism, women, suffrage, segregation, disabled, etc.)

Compare the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr. to that of Mahatma Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, and Sylvia Mendez.

In the author’s note Emily Jenkins says the word fool in blackberry fool does not mean foolish but mushed up and comes from the French word fouler which means to mash or press. What other foods or dishes can you name where the origin of the word comes from another country or language?

Read the author’s note at the end of the book. Emily Jenkins states she wanted to include characters who are slaves even though there was not space in a picture book to explore the topic of slavery fully. Is this a problem for you as a reader? Would you have prefered all the characters to have been free? Would that have been true to the era? Explain.

Ms. Jenkins states ‘I wrote about people finding joy in craftsmanship and dessert even within lives of great hardship and injustice -because finding that joy shows something powerful about the human spirit.’ What does the author mean by this? Explain.

Do you believe there is joy in doing a job well even in times of persecution? Why or why not?

Do you believe all parents smile with their children in good and bad times? Explain. Can you give an example of a hard time you or your family has gone through where you were still able to smile?

The difference between happiness and joy is being happy depends on your circumstances and what is going on around you while joy is an emotion that is found within you and does not depend on your circumstances. If you could only have one would you rather have joy or happiness? Explain.

Book Talk Teasers:

Show students a whisk, a rotary beater and an electric hand mixer. Discuss how things have changed over time due to improvements with technology.

Talk about what it means to lick the bowl and what feelings that evokes.

Read one of the 4 time period sections:
Lyme, England 1710
Charleston, South Carolina 1810
Boston, Massachusettes 1910
San Diego, California 2010

Read Alikes:

Fiction Picture Books with recipes:
Fleming, Candace. Clever Jack takes the cake. A poor boy named Jack struggles to deliver a birthday present worthy of the princess. (NoveList)

Lyons, Kelly Starling. Tea cakes for Tosh. Tosh has spent many days in the kitchen with his grandmother, Honey, watching her bake cookies and listening to tales of their slave ancestors, so when Honey’s memory starts to fail, Tosh is able to help with the cookies and more. Includes a recipe for tea cakes.

Stevens, Janet. Cook-a-doodle-doo! With the questionable help of his friends, Big Brown Rooster manages to bake a strawberry shortcake which would have pleased his great-grandmother, Little Red Hen. (NoveList)

Wheeler, Lisa. Ugly pie. After baking a scrumptious Ugly Pie, made from ingredients donated by his neighbors, Ol’ Bear invites everyone over for a slice. Includes pie recipe. (NoveList)

Pioneer Foods and Recipes:
Ichord, Loretta Frances. Skillet bread, sourdough, and vinegar pie: cooking in pioneer days. Presents a look at what was eaten in the American West by pioneers on the trail, cowboys on cattle drives, and gold miners in California camps, with available ingredients, cooking methods, and equipment. Includes recipes and appendix of classroom cooking directions. (NoveList)

Kalman, Bobbie. Food for the settler. Looks at how early American settlers shot, caught, grew and prepared their food, describes maple sugaring, holiday meals, taffy pulls, and table manners, and offers a variety of old-fashioned recipes. (NoveList)

Kalman, Bobbie. Pioneer recipes. Describes the cooking techniques, ingredients, kitchen equipment, and common meals of American pioneers, and includes such early American recipes as shepard’s pie, parsnip soup, and German baked apples. (NoveList)

Walker, Barbara M. The Little House cookbook: frontier foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic stories. Recipes based on the pioneer food written about in the “Little House” books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, along with quotes from the books and descriptions of the food and cooking of pioneer times. (NoveList)

Colonial Foods and Life:
Carlson, Laurie M. Colonial kids: an activity guide to life in the New World. Gives instructions for preparing foods, making clothes, and creating other items used by European settlers in America, thereby providing a description of the daily life of these colonists. (NoveList)

Gourley, Catherine. Welcome to Felicity’s world, 1774: growing up in Colonial America. Provides an in-depth look at daily life and historical events in the American colonies during the Revolutionary War, including home life, work, medicine, and play. (NoveList)

Ichord, Loretta Frances. Hasty pudding, Johnnycakes, and other good stuff: cooking in colonial America. Presents colonial food preparation with a look at the influences of available ingredients, cooking methods, and equipment. Includes recipes and appendix of classroom cooking directions. (NoveList)

King, David C. Colonial days: discover the past with fun projects, games, activities, and recipes. Discusses colonial life in America, depicts a year in the life of a fictional colonial family, and presents projects and activities, such as butter churning, candle dipping, baking bread, and playing colonial games. (NoveList)

Waters, Kate. Sarah Morton’s day: a day in the life of a pilgrim girl. Text and photographs of Plimouth Plantation follow a pilgrim girl through a typical day as she milks the goats, cooks and serves meals, learns her letters, and adjusts to her new stepfather. (NoveList)

Cook books, How-to books:
Shirk, Lynette Rohrer.The mother daughter cookbook: recipes to nourish relationships. Offers twenty-four recipes with cooking instructions divided equally between mother and daughter for party snacks, birthday treats, holiday desserts, and everyday fare. NoveList)

Sweetser, Wendy. How to cook in 10 easy lessons. Offers an introduction to cooking in ten lessons that each introduce a different kitchen skill, from using knives to mixing, folding, and kneading dough, and provides simple recipes that make use of each skill. (NoveList)

History and Science of Food:
Eamer, Claire. The world in your lunch box: the wacky history and weird science of everyday foods. A scientific and historical exploration of everyday foods, from pizza to ice cream. (NoveList)

Fiction Picture Books of Families Cooking with Children:
Marshall, Linda Elovitz. Talia and the very YUM Kippur. Talia helps her grandmother prepare food for Yom Kippur, which she mishears as YUM Kippur, and learns the original meaning of break-fast. (NoveList)

Park, Linda Sue. Bee-bim bop! A child, eager for a favorite meal, helps with the shopping, food preparation, and table setting. (NoveList)

Rattigan, Jama Kim. Dumpling soup. A young Asian American girl living in Hawaii tries to make dumplings for her family’s New Year’s celebration. Includes glossary. (NoveList)

Soto, Gary. Too many tamales. Maria tries on her mother’s wedding ring while helping make tamales for a Christmas family get-together. Panic ensues when hours later, she realizes the ring is missing. (NoveList)

Zia, F. (Farhana). Hot, hot roti for Dada-ji. Aneel and his grandfather, Dada-ji, tell stories, use their imaginations, and make delicious roti, a traditional Indian flatbread. (NoveList)

Slavery:
Kamma, Anne. If you lived when there was slavery in America. It is hard to imagine that, once, a person in America could be “owned” by another person. But from the time the colonies were settled in the 1600s until the end of the Civil War in 1865, millions of black people were bought and sold like goods.

Where did the slaves come from? Where did they live when they were brought to this country? What kind of work did they do? With compassion and respect for the enslaved, this book answers questions children might have about this dismal era in American history. (Scholastic)

Levine, Ellen. Henry’s freedom box: a true story from the Underground Railroad. A fictionalized account of how in 1849 a Virginia slave, Henry “Box” Brown, escapes to freedom by shipping himself in a wooden crate from Richmond to Philadelphia. (NoveList)

Lyons, Kelly. Hope’s gift. A poignant story celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s 1862 and the Civil War has turned out to be a long, deadly conflict. Hope’s father can’t stand the waiting a minute longer and decides to join the Union army to fight for freedom. He slips away one tearful night, leaving Hope, who knows she may never see her father again, with only a conch shell for comfort. Its sound, Papa says, echoes the promised song of freedom. It’s a long wait for freedom and on the nights when the cannons roar, Papa seems farther away than ever. But then Lincoln finally does it: on January 1, 1863, he issues the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves, and a joyful Hope finally spies the outline of a familiar man standing on the horizon. (Putnam)

Walker, Sally. Freedom song: the story of Henry ‘Box’ Brown. Henry Brown copes with slavery by singing, but after his wife and children are sold away he is left with only his freedom song, which gives him strength when friends put him in a box and mail him to a free state. (NoveList)

Historical Fiction Series:
Dear America Series has 40 titles covering 4 centuries of history. Each book is in diary format and is written from a preteen or teen’s point of view.

Book Reviews:

Booklist:
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat.
By Emily Jenkins. Illus. by Sophie Blackall.
2015. 44p. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (9780375868320). K–Gr. 2.
First published December 15, 2014 (Booklist).

A blackberry fool is a simple recipe that has been around for ages—mashed blackberries are folded into whipped cream, then chilled. In this delightful and informative offering, Jenkins and Blackall show families in four centuries making the sweet treat. The book begins in 1710; a mother and daughter pick berries and whip cream using a whisk made of twigs. About 100 years later, a mother and daughter, slaves on a plantation, pick berries and whip cream, but they use a wire whisk, and they’re only allowed to eat whatever’s left over after serving the masters. Another 100 years later, a mother and daughter buy berries and use a whirring beater, and today, a father and son use an electric mixer to whip cream. The tools and families begin to look different over time, but the recipe is essentially the same, and so is the reaction when kids get a taste—“Mmmmm.” Blackall’s elaborate, antique-like watercolor illustrations are stuffed with historical tidbits, and she includes visual echoes that further link each time period. An author’s note explains some of the history, which will be useful for little ones curious about the differences. And for kids wondering what all the fuss is about over blackberry fool, Jenkins provides a recipe. A delicious book about a delicious treat. —Sarah Hunter

 

Horn Book:
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat
by Emily Jenkins; illus. by Sophie Blackall
Primary Schwartz & Wade/Random     40 pp.
1/15 978-0-375-86832-0     $17.99
Library ed. 978-0-375-96832-7     $20.99     g
e-book ed. 978-0-375-98771-7     $10.99

In four vignettes, set a hundred years apart from each other, parents and children make delicious blackberry fool from blackberries, cream, and sugar: quintessentially simple. Still, the cream must be whipped, with a different tool each time—a laborious twenty minutes with a bunch of twigs in 1710 Lyme, England; just two minutes with an electric mixer in 2010 San Diego. Early cooks pick berries; now, they may come packaged from afar—but the work of sieving them hasn’t changed much. Each setting has its kitchen practices, cooks, and meals: in 1810 Charleston, South Carolina, an enslaved woman and her daughter get only bowl lickings, while the master and his family are served the dessert; the San Diego dad and his son host a potluck for a diverse group of friends. Blackall’s art, as decorative as it is informative, features lovely (if unrealistic) calligraphic berry bush tendrils to counterpoint her cheery, wholesome figures; a subdued palette of historical tans is warmed with spots of green and pink, blossoming into brighter hues in the California present. It all adds up to a thought-provoking sample of how the techniques involved in a simple task have changed over time; and how people, and food, have stayed much the same, making this an effective introduction to the very idea of history. Recipe, sources, and historical notes from both author (pointing up such changes as following recipes and pasteurization) and illustrator (searching questions on the lives of slaves, her careful decisions on dress, and the engaging information that the mottled endpapers were colored with actual blackberry juice) are appended. JOANNA RUDGE LONG (January/February 2015 Horn Book Magazine)

 

School Library Journal:
A Fine Dessert
Gr 1–3—More than mere confection, A Fine Dessert is a rich and satisfying journey across four centuries, told through the eyes of four families. Beginning with a young girl and her mother picking wild blackberries in Lyme, England in 1710 and ending with a father and son in modern day San Diego, each story is explored through the lens of making Blackberry Fool, a treat consisting of berries, cream, and sugar. Jenkins keeps the text tightly focused on the task at hand: gathering the ingredients, mixing them, presenting the finished dessert, and enjoying the sweet rewards. Each story follows the same pattern, allowing children to observe similarities and differences in across time periods. Technological progress is highlighted in the evolution of the mixing process: from a bundle of clean, soft twigs in the 18th century to a metal whisk made by a blacksmith in the 19th century to a cast-iron rotary beater in the 20th century and finally to the nearly effortless electric mixer in the 21st century. Blackall’s ink and watercolor illustrations, accented with real blackberry juice, provide the details that both unify and differentiate the various historical periods. The story set on a Charleston plantation could have been uncomfortable in less capable hands. A spread shows a white family sitting down to supper as a slave family waits upon them. Jenkins and Blackall show rather than tell, allowing young readers to draw their own conclusions about the fact that the characters must hide in a closet to enjoy the dessert they’ve worked so hard to make. The final spread depicts a modern multigenerational, multicultural gathering. A recipe for Blackberry Fool is included. Simply delectable. —Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

 

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
Jenkins, Emily. A Fine Dessert. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. Schwartz & Wade / Random House, 2015.  hb 9780375868320, glb 9780375968327, ebook 9780375987717

This gracefully crafted picture book looks at the tasty old-fashioned dessert of blackberry fool over four centuries. First it’s in England in 1710 that a girl and her mother pick the berries, whip the cream (and lick the spoon!), chill it in a cold spot and then serve it up to the very pleased family. Then it’s in Charleston in 1810 that an African-American woman and her daughter prepare the dessert and then serve it up to the master’s family. In Boston in 1910 a mother and daughter enjoy the convenience of pasteurized cream and a rotary beater as they prepare the dish. Finally, a father and son in 2010 pull the recipe off the internet, shop for the ingredients, enjoy the benefits of electricity in preparing them, and then serve the dessert up to a feast for a multicultural cast of friends. This is classic Jenkins in its seemingly casual, observation-rich text; the folkloric structure of the process (and isn’t the learning of food preparation a kind of folklore?) makes the prose rhythmic and readable, while the changing settings mark the significant historical and industrial shifts over the centuries. The untold backstory of the sequence featuring the enslaved African-American woman challenges the book’s tranquil domestic presentation, but there are subtle indicators (the girl and her mother “hid in the closet” to lick the bowl together) that point the observant to the troubling truth (and the author’s note delves deeper into the issue), and her inclusion is an appropriate acknowledgment of the importance of such women in the culinary tradition. Blackall’s delicate ink and watercolor art is well suited to period portrayals; soft detailing and repeated compositional patterning that echoes the textual repetition makes for attractive design, but there’s enough shadow and precision to give some steel to the sweetness. Sharp-eyed viewers will spot repeated motifs (look for the horse statuette, for instance) and will also note similarities and contrasts even beyond those foregrounded by the text. A recipe for blackberry fool is included; a historical note, a list of sources, and an illustrator’s note about research are appended. Review Code: R* — Recommended. Ages 5-9 yrs. Deborah Stevenson (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, April 2015 (Vol. 68, No. 8)