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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, ill. Caroline Binch

A British book just snuck into the pack. When I picked it up from the library for Kate to read, I was positive that what we had on our hands was an American title through and through. Not as such. Mary Hoffman, a white British woman, wrote this back in 1991. It was also a Kate Greenaway Honor book when it was released, which is impressive. This book is not without its controversial elements, but in my own personal library the only edition available was the reprinted 2015 edition. And, as you will see, that is probably for the best.

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, PlayerFM, or your preferred method of podcast selection.

Show Notes:

  • We all have our favorite images in books we read. For me, it’s Grace as Anansi. I recently had the pleasure of reading the new 2019 MG fantasy Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia so I already had Anansi on my mind.
  • For a fun time, Google “Pantomimes about Aladdin” sometime. You will subsequently be taken to a wide world of very British holiday oddities.
  • I love this kid with his hand only partly up. Like he wasn’t paying attention and isn’t sure what everyone’s volunteering for, but he doesn’t want to be left out.
  • Rosalie Wilkins is actually a Baroness. Could just be a coincidence, but odd choice of name, right?
  • As mentioned, back in 2015 Amazing Grace was re-released, but the American editions (not the British editions?) quietly excised the illustration of Grace as Hiawatha. No announcement was made at the time. Debbie Reese has the complete rundown and history of the controversy surrounding the image and the silence that accompanied its change. Mind you, this change might have appeared earlier. As Roger Sutton says in the comment section of Debbie’s piece, “The U.S. edition of Amazing Grace has always been Dial. But what i don’t know is whether the elimination of the Hiawatha picture happened with this anniversary edition or if the (American) publisher had removed it before–it’s a book that’s been through many years and printings, so this change might not be new. I just don’t know.”
  • The book that’s a lot like this one that’s out this year is Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin, illustrated by Ebony Glenn. When I saw it this year I wondered if Amazing Grace had just been completely forgotten.
  • If you would like to hear what a Neanderthal sounds like, check out the RadioLab episode Asking for a Friend.
About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Hello! As the author of Amazing Grace, I can tell youthat the Hiawatha image was removed at the stage of the US 25th anniversary edition.

  2. PS. I disn’t know that Rosalie Wilkins was the name of a baroness. Was that so in 1991 when the book was first published in the UK(published, not written)