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

4.34 of 5 stars 4.34  ·  rating details  ·  396 ratings  ·  117 reviews
In this fascinating picture book, 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 girl and her mother in Lyme, England, prepare a blackberry fool, picking wild blackberries a
Hardcover, 44 pages
Published January 27th 2015 by Schwartz & Wade
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A Fine Dessert by Emily JenkinsLast Stop on Market Street by Matt de la PenaSpecial Delivery by Philip C. SteadMy Pen by Christopher MyersHome by Carson Ellis
2016 Mock Caldecott
1st out of 25 books — 25 voters
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame DyckmanIt's Raining Bats & Frogs by Rebecca ColbyThe Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-RoachDaniel O'Dowd was ever so Loud by Julie FultonEllie by Mike Wu
Picture Books of 2015
15th out of 134 books — 36 voters

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Community Reviews

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It's just blackberries, sugar, and whipped cream.
How can there be a whole book about it?

Well, the book isn't quite about the dessert. I mean, it is, of course, but it's also about how this particular treat has endured through time (from 1710 to 2010) and across two countries (England and the U.S.) and about how, traditionally, this was a mother/daughter undertaking (though, now, fathers and sons can make it, too), and the importance of savoring the sweetness of something you worked to make, the
One recipe is made during four different centuries and though the recipe stays the same the times do not. Clever way to teach history, that.

The illustrations are gorgeous.
Delicious even.
What a cool way to talk about history with kids. The same dessert is prepared four times, in four different centuries, in four different places. Roughly the same process is used, but other aspects change.

Many of the differences are subtle. In the first, a mother and daughter prepare it and serve it to the males in the family before they eat themselves. At the end, the parent/child combination print a recipe off the internet (it's 2010, not 2015 - now, I think we'd just prop up a tablet or phone
Jenkins traces social and technological changes across four centuries and demonstrates these through the preparation of a simple dessert. This delightfully illustrated picture book begins in England in 1710, with a mother and daughter milking a cow to produce their own cream, utilizing a handmade straw whisk to whip it, and picking berries to make a Blackberry Fool, a recipe that we see replicated next in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1810, there are stark differences. Foremost, readers are int ...more
This deliciously descriptive picture book relates how four different families over the cross of four centuries prepare a yummy blackberry fool. The book begins in 1710 in Lyme, England, and ends in 2010 in San Diego, California. Following each step of preparing the dessert over four different centuries allows readers to note the differences in the way food was prepared as well as considering gender roles, slavery, and even the meals that were typically served to families in those years. I loved ...more
Marjorie Ingall
This book is freaking awesome. A parent and child make blackberry fool in 1710, 1810, 1910 and 2010. It's so minimal and so much.

The text by Emily Jenkins (Toys Go Out, and as E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks) shows you the different lives of the dessert-makers -- how they get the cream, the tools they use to whip it, how long it takes, how they keep the bowl cold. The illustrations from Ivy & Bean/Baby Tree/kickass subway poster artist Sophie Blackall let you ex
Four different time periods, four different parents making blackberry fool with their children. I appreciate the attention to detail and accuracy. Also, now I want to try this, although I wouldn't normally consider myself a big blackberry fan.

Library copy
Follow one recipe through the centuries in this exceptional picture book! Starting over 300 years ago in England, the book starts with a mother and daughter out picking blackberries. Once home, the mother skims cream from the milk from their cow and whips it with a bundle of twigs for 15 minutes until she has whipped cream. That is combined with squashed and strained blackberries mixed with sugar to create blackberry fool. The fool then needs to be cooled, so they head to the hillside to chill i ...more
I love picture books that tell a great food Polacco's Thundercake.

Or a young child's look at chronological changes.

All done so well and lovely in this picture book featuring families making blackberry fool.

The author brings in the ideas of slavery and roles of women through her subtle introduction of characters...I wonder if families will just read this book or also talk about each family dynamic?

A beautiful picture book that follows one dessert recipe through four centuries focusing on four different families in four different times and places. Each family's story reveals much about the culture of each time period. For instance, two hundred years ago in Charleston, South Carolina the dessert was made by slaves to serve to a white family; later the cooks are able to taste the dessert while hidden in a closet.

The storytelling is straightforward with no commentary so the reader is able to
Mar 21, 2015 Joan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history teachers esp of primary and elementary grades
Recommended to Joan by: patron
I became aware of this book due to a patron request/complaint. She wanted to know how it was that her system in the midwest had purchased this and we hadn't??!!! She was pretty upset. I thought about writing the truth to her and settled on thank you for bringing this book to our attention, we will be purchasing it. It turned out I had a review copy of the book so I read it. I CAN see why she was surprised we hadn't purchased it since the last section takes place in San Diego. This is a deceptive ...more
This book goes from 1710 to 1810, 1910, to 2010. It shows how a simple dessert was made in each of those years, and shows the kitchen tools used in each of those times. It shows how the dessert was cooled in each of those years. It tells how long it took to whip the cream, and how the blackberries were mashed and sieved. The illustrator told about research into the clothing, furniture, and kitchen equipment that were used during the various time periods. The 1810 year, shows a slave family makin ...more
Adrienne Furness
I used to make a variation of blackberry fool with berries from my yard when I was a girl, so I love this for that reason, but then there's the blackberry juice endpapers, "What is dark within me, illuminate" on the wall sampler, Blackall's attention to historical detail. The book points out a lot of changes in our world in a way I think a small child can wrap her mind around, and it celebrates the tradition of cooking and sharing meals. Lovely for family sharing, discussion, and inspiration for ...more
A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins follows a desserts transitions over centuries. Not only does the method of preparing the dessert change, but also the tools used to prepare the dessert. The final tableau features a father and son making the dessert and sharing it with a diverse group of friends. This picture book mixes non-fiction topics with a good narrative. This would be a great book for older children, maybe 2nd and 3rd graders.
Karen Arendt
A book that should generate conversation. The history is of a dessert, blackberry fool, from the 1700s to today. What makes it interesting is the subtle and not so subtle changes to how the dessert is made by the invention of new technologies, from the mixers to the cookbooks. Recipe included for those that might want to make the dessert.
Beginning in 1710, four different families in four different centuries make the same dessert from scratch: Blackberry Fool. Technology, dress, service, etc all change as time moves forward and author and illustrator's commentary following the story offer thoughtful insights on the making of this book and all the details that were painstakingly researched for accuracy in the four different centuries worth of history.

A recipe is included for readers to taste a historic treat.

Highly recommended fo
Mar 20, 2015 June rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: dessert and historical requests
Recommended to June by:
Well researched picture book that follows the making and eating of a dessert through four centuries.
Great cross subject look at history. But where do you shelve it?
Some things never change, such as the love of a fine dessert. In this meticulously researched book, four families in four different centuries are shown preparing and enjoying Blackberry Fool, a simple but delicious dessert made from blackberries, cream, and sugar.

With each reiteration of the dessert making and eating process, children can see which elements have varied, and which have stayed the same (the most prominent one being licking the bowl at the end!). But much is different, from how the
Christine Turner
May 05, 2015 Christine Turner is currently reading it
In 1710, a girl and her mother 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 a slave girl and her mother in 1810 in Charleston, South Carolina; by a mother and daughter in 1910 in Boston; and finally by a boy and his father in present-day San Diego. Kids and parents alike will delight in discovering the differences in daily life over the course of four centuries.

Note: HCPL on order.
Sue Edwards
In 1710 in England, a girl and her mother pick the blackberries that they need to make a fine dessert for their family. They whip the cream with a bundle of clean twigs and chill the blackberry fool in a hillside ice pit.

In 1810 in New World, a girl and her mother pick the blackberries needed to make a fine dessert for Master and his family. They whip the cream with a wire whisk made by the local smith and chill the blackberry fool in a box of ice in the cellar.

By 1910, the girl and her mother b
Mar 18, 2015 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: k-3rd grade
Four sets of parent and child over the centuries make dessert. Author and illustrator take this simple idea and share changes in kitchen appliances, food procurement, and gender expectations along with the homes and clothing of each pairing. The book begins in 1710 and sets the pattern for each subsequent time (1810, 1910, 2010) -- getting the blackberries and milk, preparing, refrigeration, and eating. Each vignette ends similarly as well -- licking the bowl clean of course!

Sophie Blackall once
Karen Santhanam
This book tells the story of four different families sharing a wonderful dessert. The first family lives in England in 1710. The second family comes from South Carolina in 1810. The third family lives in Boston, MA in 1910. The fourth family is a modern day family that lives in San Diego, CA.

What’s fun about this book is not just the process of making a dessert together with your family but also weaves in quite a bit of history and technological innovations. Additionally, it also follows the cha
Daniel Middleton
A fine dessert transcends time and finds a place in the heart of disparate families across America and in Lyme, England. We're thrust into a story about the joys of bonding through collaborative efforts (in this case preparing ingredients for a recipe and baking a delicious dessert). Since the book spans centuries, we get to see the process repeated through time with different methods applied. First we see a cow being milked and the skimmed cream being beaten with a bundle of soft twigs in what ...more
Book Jacket: Four Centuries. Four families. One delicious treat.

My review: this was such a fascinating picture book. Thank you for including the recipe and explanation of the research process on the back cover. Emily Jenkin's, Water in the Park, serves readers an accurate telling of how the same dessert, called Fruit Fool, was selected and prepared throughout history. She details with accuracy, the tools that would have been used, the clothing of each cook tending to their craft in each specific
Fascinating to compare the lives of four parent/child combinations as they make the same dessert through the centuries. 1710 mother/daughter in England, 1810 slave mother/daughter in South Carolina, 1910 mother/daughter in Massachusetts, and 2010 son/father in San Diego. Watch as everything changes- clothes, homes, technology, hairstyles. Meticulously researched, I found this book fascinating, especially the backmatter: notes from the author and illustrator, and a recipe.

I already loved the aut
Some of my most treasured items are handwritten recipes from those friends and family members. They are like Valentines, expressions of love and a willingness to share something of value. A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat (Schwartz & Wade, January 27, 2015) written by Emily Jenkins with illustrations by Sophie Blackall offers readers an opportunity to follow a recipe from place to place from time to time.

Every aspect of A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Fa
Ms Threlkeld
As a home baker and lover of desserts, I found the idea behind this book fascinating. The text was interesting and accessible and the illustrations pulled me in, prompting me to linger over each page. This could prompt some really interesting conversations with kids about how families, traditions, and technology may or may not change over time.
I recommend this delightful book to picture book fans and those who enjoy cookbooks and social history. I especially liked the author's and illustrator's notes. If you are not in the habit of buying picture books, try your library. Here is a link to my review:
Beautifully illustrated story of a recipe that touches four families over the last few hundred years. Each of the mothers and daughters create this Fool recipe, a sort of ice cream, with berries that they first hand pick and hand whisk the fresh cream. As the story progresses, the methods change but the love put into the recipe stays the same. This is a historically portrayed story so it is definitely meant for an older child. There is also one part where the mom and daughter are portrayed as se ...more
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