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George Crum and the Saratoga Chip Hardcover – April 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 and up
  • Grade Level: 2 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 910L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584302550
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584302551
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.4 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,426,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 2-4. Part Native American, part African American, George Crum coped with prejudice as a boy in New York State during the 1830s. As a young man, he became an excellent cook and was hired as a chef at a renowned restaurant in Saratoga Springs, frequented by high society. Once, responding to a persnickety customer, Crum retrieved the dish of French fries, whittled them into very thin slices, and cooked them in hot oil, creating the forerunner of the potato chip. Later in life, Crum opened his own restaurant, where everyone was treated equally, regardless of skin color, gender, age, or economic status. Providing enough historical explanation for younger students, this picture-book biography describes dramatic moments that reveal Crum's creativity, artistic temperament, and relentless pursuit of perfection. Buoyant acrylic illustrations accentuate the absurdity of situations, depicting the jaunty chef, all angles and energy. Sources and an author's note are appended. An excellent choice for multicultural and invention units. Linda Perkins
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Great for reading to children and adults.
Iris A. Malone
I enjoyed this story of George Crum, who in 1853 invented the potato chip while working as a chef at the prestigious Moon's Lake House in Saratoga Springs.
LonestarReader
Frank Morrison's illustrations are both interesting and fun.
Sally Flannery

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sally Flannery on June 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Hip Hip Hooray! A fabulous biography that is not only multi-cultural, but will hold the interest of every child who reads it! Thanks go out to author Gaylia Taylor, who must have researched many months to find enough details to bring George Crum half Native American, half African American, back to life. Embarrassed and laughed at in school as a child because he couldn't count to one hundred, George decided to live his life by making his own choices, not those of society. There are strong messages about self esteem and perserverance in this story, yet they never beat the reader over the head.

Frank Morrison's illustrations are both interesting and fun.

This book is a must have for all Elementary School libraries. I loved it so much, I bought one for each school in our district!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Frank Morrison's illustrations are the best thing in this biography of the inventor of the potato chip, Mr. George Crum. I've seen Morrison's work in both "Sweet Music in Harlem" and "Jazzy Miz Mozetta," but I think this is his best work to date. Sure, he has those signature elongated limbs and faces, but his backgrounds also curve around, inviting you into the picture. His choice of colors is outstanding, rich greens and browns make you taste the Adirondack mountains, and his precious orchid tones suggest the high-minded, precious ambience of the exclusive restaurants where Crum eventually works. Morrison commands each scene, whether the action table side or in the kitchen, (where George whips up a batch of French fries--their return by yet another horrendous customer prompts an angry George to invent the dish we now call the potato chip), or in a fish-shaped lily pad floating on the river where George lays down his pole.

The story depicts mid-18th century America, and includes some interest-provoking material about George and his sister and supporter, Kate. An early scene that show George's frustration at school sets up George's later feisty personality, and his "revenge" on the fussy french fry complaint. However, it seems a little contrived, and the details about his entire life seem somewhat superfluous. Not to make too fine a point of it, but I also wondered at the cozy racial integration shown both at school and at the cafes. Perhaps this is useful for educational settings, but it's internally inconsistent with Crum's difficulty procuring a chef position, and is very probably contradictory to the times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By LonestarReader VINE VOICE on August 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this story of George Crum, who in 1853 invented the potato chip while working as a chef at the prestigious Moon's Lake House in Saratoga Springs.

Crum was confident of his cooking skills but as a person of color, part African American and part Native American; he faced difficulty finding a position as a chef. Hired by Moon's Lake House, Crum's menu soon brought the rich and famous to the restaurant in droves.

He felt great frustration and chafed at the pettiness of wealthy restaurant patrons. After one customer complained about the thickness of some French fries, Crum, in retaliation, sliced the potatoes wafer thin and fried them at a very high heat. The rest is history.

This book works well for kids on many levels. It is a skillfully told story from history. Morrison's illustrations are bright and engaging and evoke the time period. In the dining room of the restaurant, the patrons are white and the waitstaff is black.

Readers will applaud George Crum's independent spirit and his determination to follow his own path. This story of one of our favorite snack foods is a terrific read to share with students.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Anne B. Levy on May 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Many people already know that an African American, George Washington Carver, invented peanut butter. And now a few smart souls will know that our #1 snack food, the potato chip, was also a gift from a person of color, in this case part African American and Native American.

The book presents a fictive George Crum circa the mid-19th century drawn from scant historical details. Taylor nonetheless manages to weave together enough bits and pieces to create a fascinating character with a restless mind, short fuse and epicurean leanings.

Crum grew up free -- and something of a free spirit -- hunting and fishing near Saratoga Springs, New York, the summer playground for the super-wealthy drawn by its mineral springs.

After a French hunter taught him to cook his catches, Crum managed to persuade a toney eatery to overlook the color of his skin and hire him as chef. But he didn't suffer fools gladly, and Taylor skillfully sets us up for the inevitable showdown.

Morrison's elongated, elegant rendering of Crum ambles through bright acrylics, with the hoity-toity patrons rendered mockingly as they huff and preen, a reverse of 19th-century genre paintings that often skewered the working class. Crum's moment of inspiration was basically his hissy fit prompted by a particularly prissy customer.

The dish is instantly famous, earning Crum enough acclaim and money to open his own, integrated restaurant. An end note clarifies what liberties the creators took filling in blanks, and there's a bibliography opposite the title page.

More than an interesting bit of trivia, the story fleshes out someone who'd otherwise be lost to history; an outdoorsy, cunning man in the era of slavery who owned himself, in the best sense possible.
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