Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament

When Filbert P. Horsefeathers walks into George Crum’s restaurant, he tells the waitress, “I have a hankering for a heaping helping of potatoes.” Fine cook that he is, George prepares a serving of his most scrumptious, succulent and sublime potato wedges, only to have Filbert send them back. “Too thick,” he says. So, George makes thinner wedges. But his picky customer sends them back again. And again. Feeling a bit mischievous, George decides to use his sharpest knife to cut paper-thin potato slices, which he fries until they are crackling and then showers with salt. At last, Filbert is satisfied, proclaiming, “Perfection!” Which they are. Because, quite by accident, George Crum has invented potato chips! This fictional picture book tale by Anne Renaud is based on a real man named George Crum, a cook in Saratoga Springs, New York, in the 1850s, who is purported to have created the first potato chip in response to a demanding customer. Included at the back of the book is a historical note with a list of sources describing the legend and the remarkable and inspiring story of Crum, a trapper of mixed Native American and African American descent, who supplied restaurants with fresh game, then became a chef and successful restaurateur himself. Felicita Sala’s gorgeous illustrations accurately portray the historical period but with a lighthearted touch. They work beautifully with Renaud’s playful language and quirky characters for a lively and deliciously fun read-aloud. This book is an excellent choice for lessons on inventions and inventors, history, or why we eat the foods we do.

The illustrations are richly done and befitting the time period the author used for her story which is a fictional take on a probable historical event. Whatever artistic license was used in both story and art work was done well and the diversity used in the customers was nice to see.

I had never heard of Mr. Crum or given much thought to how we have the modern potato chip so I appreciated not only how well the author has written a story that seems realistic but also provided the known and assumed historical information so the reader can look more into this.

I read this to my daughters, who now want me to try making our own potato chips, they liked the characters particularly Mr. Crum as they thought he was very patient and nice to put up with such demanding behavior.

I think it’s a great book for schools and families as you are able to be educated while entertained. It makes a great opening to look into further food inventions and to discover the history behind the food we take for granted.

Thank you to Netgalley and Kids Can Press for allowing me to review this book.

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*synopsis and pic from

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