The Washington and Lee University Library does not often purchase “children’s books,” but occasionally we do — especially if they are about George Washington. And, with his birthday coming up, what could be better than a book about his birthday cake?
The Washington Post, the New York Times, and National Public Radio are only three of the national media outlets which took note of a recently-published book entitled A Birthday Cake for George Washington. However, as you can tell from clicking on these links, the reaction is not altogether welcoming.
These and many other media stories note that the publisher, Scholastic Press, withdrew this book from distribution after considerable criticism. Despite this unusual action (by the respected publisher of the Harry Potter series in the U.S.), we were able to purchase a copy of the book, as were a few other libraries in the U.S.
The University Library supports the research and curriculum of Washington and Lee University, as well as our local and institutional history. In fact, the “Rare Books” section of our formal collection development policy specifies a particular interest in acquiring “books about Robert E. Lee, George Washington and other prominent individuals associated with the history of Washington and Lee University, including fictional works.” We plan to house our copy of this book in the Special Collections area of Leyburn Library.
Certainly, this book’s story — both its pages and the discussions surrounding its publication — should be of interest to researchers from a wide range of fields for many years to come.