Edible books whet your appetite for reading

News-DemocratApril 6, 2014 

Michelle Redd and her three sons have been reading Kate DiCamillo's books for years. One of their favorites is "Mercy Watson to the Rescue."

Mercy is a pampered pet pig who lives with Mr. and Mrs. Watson. They don't get mad even when she jumps in their bed, causing it to bust through the floor.

"Mercy loves buttered toast," said Michelle, 34, who lives in Glen Carbon with her husband, John. "That's her favorite thing in the whole wide world."

Michelle, who home-schools sons Carver, 9, Nathan, 6, and Clark, 4, was one of three people who entered an International Edible Book Festival contest through Glen Carbon Centennial Library last week.

They had to illustrate books using only food items. Michelle built the Watson home out of toast with pretzel and graham-cracker furniture.

"Mercy also likes sugar cookies, and (neighbor) Baby Lincoln makes some for her," Michelle said. "So I made Baby Lincoln out of a sugar cookie.

"Mr. and Mrs. Watson are kind of portly, so I made them out of doughnut holes. And since Eugenia (Baby's sister) is kind of a sourpuss, I made her out of a slice of sourdough."

This is the first year Glen Carbon has participated in the festival, which is held at schools, bookstores and libraries on April Fool's Day.

Adult Services Coordinator Joan Schneider displayed entries in a glass case near the circulation desk.

"People were just mesmerized," she said. "Kids had their foreheads pressed up against the glass. It was very well-received."

Library patrons voted in the contest. Winner Courtney Winkler received a $20 gift card and other goodies from Sweeties Confections.

Her two daughters, Corinna, 7, and Colette, 6, picked the book, "Go Away, Big Green Monster!" by Ed Emberley.

"It was one of their favorite books growing up," said Courtney, 42, of Glen Carbon. "It was one of the first books they could read on their own."

Courtney made a cake shaped like the monster's head, covered it with green icing and decorated with sweets bought by husband Chad.

That included vanilla-wafer eyes with M&M pupils, blue marshmallow Peeps for the nose and ears, candy orange slices for teeth and red Mike and Ike's for hair.

"I'm a literacy advocate," said Courtney, an adjunct instructor at McKendree University. "I teach English. I have a book blog, and I read a lot. I just thought (the contest) was a great idea to reinforce reading."

The third contestant was Susan Carsell, 43, of Glen Carbon, a home-schooler who writes romance novellas for an electronic publisher.

She made a sheet cake based on "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" by Arthur Conan Doyle, with input from daughter Claire, 16, son Aaron, 13, and husband Brian.

"It's a pun," Susan said. "In fact, it's a whole list of puns. The name of it is, 'The Adventures of Sherlock Scones.'"

Susan made the cake to look like a door with the address 221B Bakery Street. Decorations included a dollop of meringue (Sebastian Meringue), an apple strudel (D.I. Lestrudel), a lemon tart (Moritarty) and a johnnycake (Johnnycake Watson).

No detail was too small for Susan. She lined the cake's edge with gift wrap resembling wallpaper in Sherlock's apartment on the BBC series.

"Now my kids know what johnnycakes are, and we'll be having them more for breakfast," she said. "I've expanded their culinary horizons."

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