In this inventive culinary history, Jenkins (Water in the Park) traces a single dessert through the centuries as four families-from 1710, 1810, 1910, and 2010, respectively-puree blackberries and whip heavy cream to enjoy blackberry fool after dinner. "What a fine dessert!" each cook exclaims. Blackall's (The Baby Tree) scrupulously researched ink, watercolor, and blackberry juice (!) spreads document the dress, furnishings, and cooking methods of each family, and they repay close study and comparison; watching cream-whipping technology evolve is particularly enlightening. Unfortunately, an attempt at historical authenticity backfires as the 19th-century plantation family's blackberry fool is made for them by their slaves. The African-American cook and her daughter are not permitted to eat the dessert they've made; instead, they serve it to the white family, and the two are left to lick the bowl in a dark closet. The historical facts are not in dispute, but the disturbing injustices represented in this section of an otherwise upbeat account either require adult readers to present necessary background and context or-worse-to pass by them unquestioned. Ages 4-8. Illustrator's agent: Nancy Gallt, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* 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.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2014 Booklist