In celebration of National Library Week (April 14-20), the annual Edible Book Festival was held on Tuesday, April 16th in the 4th floor Memorial Commons from 4:00-6:00 pm. This year’s theme was “Communities Matter.” Twelve creative contestants shared book-inspired food creations ranging from zombie and sea-monster themed versions of Jane Austen novels to a play on Dr. Seuss’s One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish using two commonly requested reference books dubbed “the red book” and “the blue book.”
Participants thought outside the “cake box” when it came to choosing their edible materials. Entries were crafted using a wide variety of ingredients including Jell-O, Triscuits, candy bars, rice noodles, artichoke hearts, herbs and spices, daikon radishes (believe it or not, two creations included this unique vegetable), and Wisconsin’s state fruit—cranberries.
One entry that really embraced the “Communities Matter” theme was “A Bus Called Heaven,” created by Katelyn Martens and Ashley Guy of MERIT Library. A funky, vibrant bus, sculpted from Rice Krispie Treats and fondant, represented the picture book by Bob Graham. A Bus Called Heaven tells the inspiring and whimsical story about a community of neighbors from all walks of life coming together to refurbish an abandoned bus.
“The Green Truck Garden Giveaway” was an impressive and highly-detailed garden landscape, made by Lesley Wolf and Marion Ceraso, of the Healthy Wisconsin Leadership Institute. The creators were inspired by The Green Truck Garden Giveaway: A Neighborhood Story and Almanac and used seasonal ingredients to represent each of the four seasons. The outcome was a lovely (and fragrant!), meticulously hand-crafted panorama.
One of the “punny” entries was Stephanie Unertl’s cake featuring a spot-on reproduction of author Mo Willem’s lovable characters, Elephant & Piggie. The book it paired with was We Are in a Book!, so naturally the characters on the cake declared “We Are On a Cake!” Stephanie knew she wanted to represent a children’s book because she was inspired by their colors and illustrations, but wasn’t sure which book to use, so she turned to her fellow SLIS classmates and the elementary school students she teaches for their opinions. “Elephant & Piggie” was the answer, hands down.
When asked about her creative process, Stephanie spoke about the virtue of patience and the challenges she encountered working with food as a medium. “You have to wait for your cake to cool or you’ll crumble it, and butter cream frosting can get too warm and might have to go back in the fridge until it has a better consistency for piping. And if you goof, frosting and cake are fairly unforgiving—it’s hard to cover errors when working with frosting on frosting unless you scrape it off and completely recover the area you were working in.” But the best part about working with cake? “You get to eat it! Cake is ephemeral—it doesn’t last… but it’s made to be eaten and appreciated.”
The edible books were ogled by library staff, students, and community members who had the opportunity to cast votes for the People’s Choice award. The entries were then analyzed by four very qualified judges, the 149 votes were tallied, and prizes were awarded in six different categories.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for… the winners!
- People’s Choice- Healthy Wisconsin Leadership Institute, “The Green Truck Garden Giveaway: A Neighborhood Story and Almanac”
- Most Creative Use of Ingredients- Jacobsen Primate Library, “Ham the Astrochimp”
- Best Visual Presentation- Healthy Wisconsin Leadership Institute, “The Green Truck Garden Giveaway: A Neighborhood Story and Almanac”
- Funniest/Punniest- Stephanie Unertl, “We Are On a Cake!”
- Best Entry Based on a Children’s/Teen’s Book- MERIT Library, “A Bus Called Heaven”
- Best Literary Mash-Up- Memorial Library Reference Department, “One Book, Two Book, Red Book, Blue Book”