blackberry fool, dished up impeccably

a fine dessert emily jenkins and sophie blackall cover imageA Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat, written by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
published in 2015 by schwartz&wade books

Imagine the velvety smoothness of fresh whipped cream, swirled with a tangy purple streak of blackberry swizzle.

blackberry fool

Mmmmmmm! Delicious!

This story about that fine dessert — blackberry fool — is in every possible way, delicious.

Of course, its subject matter is delectable.

Equally so are its lovely language, historical perceptiveness, captivating artwork, creamy pages, fascinating notes by author and illustrator, and even the surprising endpapers.

It’s simply the crème de la crème. Nonfiction perfection.

a fine dessert back cover image by sophie blackall

The story stops in on four families, each separated by one hundred years in time, as they prepare and enjoy a scrumptious bowlful of blackberry fool. A wealthy English household in 1710, an 1810 plantation, a New England family in 1910, and a southern California father and son in 2010 — four very different eras, one old recipe relished by all.

Because of the immense thought Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall put into this account, we get to feast on a banquet of history and ideas here. As time passes, architecture changes, as do fashions, furnishings, hairstyles, kitchen equipment, menus. Society changes dramatically as well. I love the final picture of a diverse community eating together. If you pay attention, you’ll pick up on many, masterful details which I’ll leave for you to discover.

a fine dessert interior emily jenkins and sophie blackall

Despite the tide of change that sweeps us along, some sweet constants also show up, including the satisfaction of cooking for people we love, the joy of gathering around the table together, the way generations of children take up the family recipes from their elders, and the lip-smacking delight of licking the spoon! These and a fine dessert interior emily jenkins and sophie blackallother warm currents undergird the story and keep it from being a sort of detached history. 

Jenkins’ vivid language, flavored with both continuity and progress, and Blackall’s always-gorgeous, delicate, ink and watercolor illustrations, make this a story to linger over; to page back and check on a detail here to compare with an aspect there. And don’t skip the Author and Illustrator Notes! You will learn some amazing things about the process of creating story and artwork which will help you appreciate not only this book, but every excellent piece of children’s literature. Plus find out how blackberry juice seeped its way into this book!

a fine dessert emily jenkins sophie blackall interior2I hope I have gushed sufficiently to persuade you to check this book out. If I haven’t done quite enough, might I add that there’s a recipe for blackberry fool so you can try this fine dessert for yourselves?

One of those best-ever nonfiction titles, new this year, which will suit ages 4 and older.