George Crum and the Saratoga Chip

George Crum and the Saratoga Chip

by Gaylia Taylor, Frank Morrison

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An account of the life and career of George Crum, a biracial chef who is credited with the invention of the potato chip at a Saratoga Springs, New York, restaurant in 1853. Based on historical records.  See more details below


An account of the life and career of George Crum, a biracial chef who is credited with the invention of the potato chip at a Saratoga Springs, New York, restaurant in 1853. Based on historical records.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
According to the author's note, this picture book, about the invention of the potato chip, is expanded from a very few facts. George Speck Crum was born in 1828. He is credited with inventing Saratoga chips while he was a chef trying to satisfy a fussy restaurant client who complained that the French fries he/she ordered were too thick. Most of the rest of the story of his life from childhood onward is based more on speculation than information. The book relies heavily on stereotypes to define his life, with some stereotypes evident in the artwork. For instance, George's friend, a Frenchman who taught him to cook, is pictured looking rather effeminate with pointed beard on pointed chin and turned up toes on his shoes. The author is a retired reading teacher who has been writing children's stories for years. This is her first picture book. The illustrator has won a number of awards and his artwork is included in many private collections including those of Bill Cosby and Maya Angelou. The book is published by Lee and Low Books, an independent children's book publisher specializing in multicultural themes. Their website says the publisher "makes a special effort to work with artists of color, and takes pride in nurturing many authors and illustrators who are new to the world of children's book publishing." 2006, Lee and Low Books Inc, Ages 4 to 7.
—Janet Crane Barley
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5-This lively story of the inventor of the potato chip begins with Crum's 1830s childhood in the Adirondacks, where his "feisty streak" gave him resilience in the face of prejudice against his Native American/African-American heritage. He combined a passion for cooking with a perfectionist bent and was hired as a chef at Moon's Lake House in Saratoga Springs, where he created popular wild game and fish dishes. His encounters with fussy and demanding patrons led to the innovative idea of thinly sliced, deep-fried potatoes as the ultimate French fry, and his fame spread rapidly. He eventually opened his own restaurant, Crum's Place, where everyone was treated equally, regardless of race or wealth. Taylor notes that the story is based on the "more substantiated existing facts" about a man whose life is largely undocumented. She writes clearly and compassionately, and treats topics of culinary history and race relations in an inviting manner. Crum is multidimensional in depiction, and readers can practically taste his crisp, freshly prepared chips. Morrison's richly colored acrylic illustrations have a comical look; the elongated figures shown from unusual angles create stylized exaggeration and burst with life. This book contains sufficient detail to interest older students, and its appealing format will assure its popularity as a read-aloud for the primary grades.-Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Spinning lively invented details around skimpy historical records, Taylor profiles the 19th-century chef credited with inventing the potato chip. Crum, thought to be of mixed Native-American and African-American ancestry, was a lover of the outdoors, who turned cooking skills learned from a French hunter into a kitchen job at an upscale resort in New York state. As the story goes, he fried up the first batch of chips in a fit of pique after a diner complained that his French fries were cut too thickly. Morrison's schoolroom, kitchen and restaurant scenes seem a little more integrated than would have been likely in the 1850s, but his sinuous figures slide through them with exaggerated elegance, adding a theatrical energy as delicious as the snack food they celebrate. The author leaves Crum presiding over a restaurant (also integrated) of his own, closes with a note separating fact from fiction and also lists her sources. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

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Product Details

Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
7.48(w) x 9.12(h) x 0.16(d)
AD910L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

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