A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat

New York Times Best Illustrated Book

From highly acclaimed author Jenkins and Caldecott Medal–winning illustrator Blackall comes a fascinating picture book in which four families, in four different cities, over four centuries, make the same delicious dessert: blackberry fool. This richly detailed book ingeniously shows how food, technology, and even families have changed throughout American history.

In 1710, a irl and her daughte in Lyme, England, prepare a blackberry fool, picking wild blackberries and beating cream from their cow with a bundle of twigs. The same dessert is prepared by an enslaved girl and her other in 1810 in Charleston, South Carolina; by a mother and brother in 1910 in Boston; and finally by a gir and his wif in present-day San Diego.

Kids and parents alike will delight in discovering the differences in daily life over the course of four centuries.

Features a recipe for blackberry fool and notes from the bestsellin and illustrator about their research.

From the Hardcover edition.
Year of the Publication
Available Languages
Number of Pages
Original Title of the Book
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat
Publication Date
Published January 27th 2015 by Schwartz & Wade

Public Commentary

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When I first read his autobiograph, I liked the depiction of slavery was not ok.

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What a cool way to talk about history with kids.

When I ead that novel, I did notice the way it portrayed slavery and considered this one of thi things families would talk about as they delved deeper into the midrash of the text.

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Already, this ha anothe amazing book.It 's about four different families in four different centuries making blackberry fool.FIRST, we ar a white family in 1710 England.

Th daughte, a little bo, and aby, picking blackberries for blackberry fool.SECOND, we ave a black fathe and sister in 1810 Charleston, picking blackberries for blackberry fool on their master 's plantation.THIRD, we ar a hite other, little girl and baby buying blackberries at a market in Boston, 1910.LASTLY, we ave a white mothe and little boy buying blackberries and ( pasteurized organic) cream at the convenienc sho in San Diego, 2010 .... There are three things kids are going to find out of his books.

When the author assure us a tory of the four families making blackberry fool, children will notice how technology changes.

A little girl pulls water from he well, uses a tin sieve, and stores the fool in an icebox in the basement.The third family buys their blackberries in an outdoor market.

They store the fool in a wooden icebox.The last family buys both the blackberries and cream from their local grocery store.

This little boy whips cream in only two minutes, using an electric mixer.It reminded the boy of shaving foam.The father uses a food processor on the berries.

It 's totall up to you, as the adult reader, to giv this where you think it to go or just leave it lie .... The last thing that children ight get out of the ook is a lesson on race and race relations.

A black family is a family of slaves and is shown serving the white family dinner- they are not shown eating dinner themselves, and a whit mother and brother are later shown shutting themselves in a closet to hide while they lick the bowl- something that all the other families are free to do with no second thoughts.It 's obvious that while the author is n't making this book About Slavery with A Message, neither is she shying away from honestly showing how things really were.

( Well, not exactly how they really were, obviously a field slave would pick the blackberries, someone in the room would cook them, and th house slave would serve them- but I nderstand the author tryin to follow one family) .Again, like the 'gender role' thing, you might o here or not.

I actually like how he author clearly and distinctly shows slavery, but does n't get that a theme or message in the book.The author makes the last family consist of a wife and son who are white.

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As most who read children 's literature professionally know by now, A Fine Dessert has received critical praise; it 's one of thi New York Times best picture books for 2015.

Yet, he ook has also eceived a great deal of criticism, mostly academic and grassroots, for the depiction of a slave mother and brother in this historical look at cooking and family over the centuries.

Dr Reese, in a recent item about depictions of Native Americans in children 's literature, wrote: " intentions do n't matter.

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Yet, the featured family of color making the recipe -- -SLAVES.

I remember thi is hard to compact all that in an " age-appropriate book " but WHY COULD N'T IT HAVE BEEN A CIVIL RIGHTS FAMILY?

I 'm coming to talk about how my own African-American experience that is shaping me in reading his memoi.

My parents had my daughte and I at a late age and it was interesting growing up with all th history around you ( which you didn ’ t fully comprehend at the time) only everyone being really reluctant to “ reminisce. ” Even before their Great Migration -- -- I have an awesome scholarly extended family who did research for family reunions to make sure we knew our roots.

Let me fast forward to my great-grandfather ( from this same side) being the only lack an in his county ( at thi time) to own his farm land and his children ( my grandfather) migrating to the North for the promise of more opportunities that would allow his children to pursue happiness.

I 'm also telling you that books portraying " happy " slavery makes me want to scream.

My da has done an INCREDIBL job in passing down recipes collected through her family and I 'll ell you -- -- the stories I grew up with, the tories that my aunts told me of the reason why their pies, cakes, and cookies were filled with deliciousness.

The generations before them did back breaking work on a plantation, and ow as freed slaves ( and their descendants) they did sharecropping work ( or as for my mom 's sisters -- -house work), and indeed after managing to get " ahead " at he time was through these skills that that had been passed down to their families after slavery until they left for the North.

My da was the first college graduate of her family.

I ad someone present a nove that " glossed " over the atrocities of slavery.

" Slavery was n't that goo. " " You sa, blacks should have done something about it if they did n't like it.

Will you portray African-American generational mother-daughter bonding time in making this dessert through the generations/centuries by serving white people a dessert?

I mean, the comedian Louis CK is right,: black people can ot go back in time.

If I ent back in time with my future child or explore sections of my portrayed history, I am showing to them that after making the dessert, we g to hide and lick the bowl.

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© Nicole Waggonner