Every Friday from March through November my daughter and I stop for a scoop of ice cream on our way home. I miss this weekly tradition now while our favorite spot is closed for the season. But Ice Cream Man: How Augustus Jackson Made a Sweet Treat Better by Glenda Armand, Kim Freeman, and Keith Mallett is the perfect thing to fill the void (along with a half gallon of mint chocolate chip from the grocery store because March is too long to wait).
An author’s note at the beginning of the book explains that some dialogue and scenes are “dramatic extensions of historically documented events and interactions.” As a teacher, I always appreciate when this is disclosed up front.
The narrative begins with Augustus (Gus) Jackson pushing an ice cream cart down a Philadelphia street, singing a jingle while children dash to get a treat. Most of the remaining story takes place as a flashback as Gus recalls what led him to become the “Ice Cream Man.”
At the age of 12, Gus began working at the White House, performing a variety of jobs before becoming a cook at 17. The book describes how he worked alongside many enslaved people although Gus was born free himself. Ice cream became one of his specialities, and in the days before freezers, it was tricky to get right. While Gus enjoyed making the fancy White House residents and guests smile with this special delicacy, he thought it would be even better to bring the joy of ice cream to ordinary folks.
So Gus returned to his hometown of Philadelphia and opened an ice cream parlor. He had to tweak his methods with big blocks of ice and buckets of ice chips to make each batch stay cold longer. When Gus decided to sell his product to other shop owners, he knew he would have to produce his ice cream faster. He experimented with adding rock salt to the ice and found his ice cream was finished in half the time. He is credited with this innovation that became widely used in ice cream recipes. The book ends where it began, with the Ice Cream Man singing a jingle and making people smile with his sweet treats.
I love all the curricular connections I can make between Ice Cream Man and science and social studies. And I’m always looking for books that take something familiar and beloved by children and show that there’s more to discover. Authors Glenda Armand and Kim Freeman have a knack for explaining the inventor’s inspiration and process in a way that’s simple for children to understand.
Kieth Mallett’s digitally painted illustrations filled with historical details give the book a warm, old-timey feel. Bright, happy faces fill each scene, which only seems right given the subject matter.
The back matter includes an afterword which further explains the facts that are known about Augustus Jackson and the parts of his life that are not well-documented. Plus it divulges some of the more “interesting” nineteenth century ice cream flavors. There is also a source list, and best of all, a recipe!
Kim Freeman and Glenda Armand are kindly giving away a signed copy Ice Cream Man to one lucky Picture Book Builders reader! Please comment below to enter and tweet about this giveaway for an extra entry. A winner will be chosen on February 15th. Thank you Kim and Glenda for this generous giveaway!
What an interesting story to learn about his life and how he sold ice cream.
I also enjoy when science can be linked to fun things in kids’ lives and ice cream is one of my favorite desserts. I can’t wait to read this book and shared on Twitter: https://twitter.com/dhammelef/status/1618955133928509440
Making ice cream was another one of my grandfather’s talents. Ice cream is a gift for the soul.
Fabulous idea for a picture book! Yum!
Who doesn’t love ice cream?! Thanks for sharing about this fun and informative story. I want to read it!
Such a cool story that more people should know about.
I love learning about people and having that ah-ha moment of “so that’s where that idea came from….” My family churns ice cream exactly once a year during the winter holidays — peppermint — and it’s always a thrill when the rock salt hits the ice and the process begins. Thanks so much for this post!
Great match of illos to subject matter. Very neat story. Thanks so much for sharing! 🍨
This looks like a fun read. I know it will be a hit with our ice cream theme week in the summer!
Very “cool” tidbit of history! Can’t wait to read it!
This book looks great, think my twins will love it!
I tweeted about the giveaway as well!
What a wonderful story! I can’t wait to read and share with my ice cream loving kid!
I’m glad to be reminded about this book. I love narrative nonfiction and look forward to reading it!
Mercy! I love eating ice cream…I love reading about ice cream. What a tasty book!
Oh, ice cream is divine! And this book looks delicious! Can’t wait to read it!
Just shared on Twitter. Book sounds great!
I love the illustrations in this inspiring picture book. Children and adults will be fascinated with this clever inventor and his story. Congratulations!
Congrats, Kim and Glenda!
What a sweet treat! Thanks for sharing the story and the inspiration! Congrats, Kim and Glenda!
Looking forward to reading this with my little ones! Congrats!
Thank you for introducing me to the ICE CREAM MAN, Augusta Jackson. I look forward to reading his story.
I shared this Picture Book Builders post on Twitter.
How fun! Thanks for sharing!
Gotta love ice cream!
Not only is this a really fun book, but Kim and Glenda are just the loveliest people! Congratulations to them both!
What an amazing and delicious story! I can think of so many fun ways to share this book.
My K-5 students would eat this book up, LOL. Adding to my to-read list!
What an awesome book! This would be great to pair with my STEM program I do for kids in grades K to 3!
This looks wonderful. I can’t wait to check it out!
Such a great concept -I love learning while being entertained. Seeing Gus sing made me so happy! Congrats!
I can’t wait to read this PB. Thank you for a chance.
It sounds like this book has many hooks- great art, science and social studies lessons potential, a recipe, an a wonderful story. Can’t wait to read it!
Two of my favorite things: a new book and ice cream!
What an awesome topic! It looks like a wonderful book.
What an amazing topic for a book. I love sharing books about food with my students! The illustrations are so beautiful as well!
Mmm ice cream. I can not wait to read this book.
Looks like the type of book I would like to read! I like to see more nonfiction books for elementary students.