BROOMALL–Bakers and bookworms alike came together on Sunday at the for its 4th Annual Edible Book Contest.
From Jell-O molds to elaborate displays of scenes from an inspired book, participants and spectators had an eyeful (and mouthful) of book-inspired cakes from children's books to novels.
This year marked the fourth year the library has hosted its Edible Book Contest. According to Jennifer Stock, assistant director at Marple library, the idea came about after reading a book review in the New York Times about two librarians from California and Canada, who created an edible book contest. Stock said they tried it the first year in 2006 and received an overwhelming response.
"The first year we had a great response and had about 30 people enter the contest," recalled Stock. One memorable entry was from a former Miss Pennsylvania. Stock has entered her own cake in the contest inspired by Rosemary Harris' Pushing Daisies.
This year's celebrity was found at Sunday's contest browsing through the cakes but this time her role was a bit more serious.
A special category this year included cakes inspired by popular children's book series Skippyjon Jones. Local author of the book series Judy Schachner of Swarthmore said she was more than happy to judge the event but found it difficult to judge the many entries.
"I love to support the local libraries and this is a great thing," said Schachner. "You have your books and eat them too. But I found it hard to vote and judge, especially for the childen's category. They're all winners."
However Schachner admitted the Madeline inspired cake by Erica Cohen immediately caught her attention when she entered the doors of the library's community room, where the contest was held.
Seeing one of the cakes–made out of Jell-O–inspired by her book series, Schachner laughed and expressed her love for the Jell-O mold. Schachner said she would love to judge the contest again "in a minute" or perhaps even create her own book-inspired cake from one of her own novels.
"I would consider making my own," said Schachner. "Maybe one from one of my favorite books Yo Vikings!, which is about my two daughters and maybe make a huge viking ship with them on the ship...that would be fun."
Schachner wasn't the only one having a difficult time judging. Although a second-year judge, Marple Township Commissioner Dan Leefson still had a hard time with the judging.
"It's about the detail of the cake but it's also the idea and creation itself," said Leefson about some of the criteria he was looking for in a 'winning cake.' "I'm torn though. I'm impartial to red velvet."
Library Director Deborah Parsons was the third judge in the contest, and also agreed with Leefson in looking at the details of the work but, most importantly, looking at "the effort and the idea behind it."
For Kristin Lamonaca, a student at St. Mary Magdalene in Media, the days she spent creating her cake paid off. Lamonaca created a standing mouse on top of a cookie-designed cake inspired from Laura Numeroff's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, won the individual children's category.
Although some bakers had a difficult time creating and baking their cakes, Paxon Hollow Middle School student Vanessa Clarke, 12, a veteran participant since the contest began, had her own obstacle to overcome in creating her cake–inspired from Liz Kessler's The Tail of Emily Winsnap. Clarke, who has Celiac disease, is only allowed to eat gluten-free foods.
"I have Celiac so I can only eat gluten-free food...a lot of my ingredients for the cake are made up of marshmallows, powdered sugar, Ric Krispie treats and food coloring," said Clarke. "I just like baking."
But for others like Erica Cohen, who entered her Madeline-inspired cake by Ludwig Bemelmans won the adult individual category, cake decorating just seemed to come naturally after years of practice decorating her children's birthday cakes.
"This was my first time entering in this contest," said Cohen. "Believe it or not, I don't eat cake that much...this was just for fun. I've been doing this for a year and a half on the side. I've been making all of my kids' cakes for years. I didn't know I would enjoy it until I started making them."
A dollar to vote in the contest, which will go towards the library's programs and activities, the winner of the people's choice award was awarded with a $100 gift certificate and the winners in the individual categories each received a $50 gift certificate.
Besides LaMonaca winning the children's category and Cohen winning the adult category. The people's choice category went to the Thomas the Tank Engine cake by Schuiler Kresage, 10, and his aunt. The group entry category winner went out to the Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows inspired cake made by Sarah Gach and Cathy Cavelier-Gach. Karly Feinberg won the teen category with her Charlotte's Web-inspired cake by E.B. White and the Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones inspired cake went to Kimberly Gibson.
Check out our photo gallery above to see all the cakes entered in this year's edible food contest.