NORMAL - Devouring a good book took on different meaning Monday at Illinois State University's library.
Jan Johnson's white-frosted, licorice whiskered "Velveteen Rabbit" revealed a carrot-cake filling when Milner librarian Victoria Heiduschke cut into it.
And the submission by East Peoria's Mid Illinois Talking Book Center appeared to be a tape player, but offered tasty brownies inside.
As part of ISU's first year participating in the International Edible Books Festival, more than a dozen people submitted their culinary tomes. Each was required to be fully edible and have an attached list of ingredients.
The event takes place every year around April Fools' Day, said Heiduschke. ISU's preservation librarian since December, she remembered taking part in the festival at her old job at the University of Texas-Austin.
"It's a really fun way to promote libraries and literacy," she said. The event also ties in with National Libraries Week.
Some entries at Milner appeared as books. Lynn Danner's "The Ugly Duckling" had pop-up quality with a candy duckling and swan sitting atop open pages.
Others were inspired by literature, such as Virginia Kerr's two Peeps marshmallow figurines depicting "Little Bo Peep and Peepi Longstocking."
Popular among voters was Katy Wilson's "Edible and Anatomical Platitudes and Ponderings." The pages of edible paper used applesauce, white fondant and other candy to depict a human skull, a brain cross-section, and a close-up of an eyeball. Red licorice spiraled through the edge to create binding.
"There's a lot of technical expertise that went into that," said Dawn Riordan of Normal, who came to peruse the entries and vote.
"Look at the details on that," said ISU student Rae Disco, pointing to Kathleen O'Gorman's presentation of a cake representing an open copy of "Leaves of Grass."
Disco, of Bloomington, walked around three tables filled with the cakes, deciding which entry would get her vote.
A majority of the entries came from Milner staff, a fact Heiduschke called natural for a first-year event.
She said she hopes to repeat ISU's participation in the annual contest next year with broader community representation.
Milner's Toni Tucker joined in the fun, making two entries.
Her ode to Garrison Keillor's "The Old Man Who Loved Cheese" took the award for wittiest entry. She created a book, with each page being a slice of cheese separated by rice paper. Using a cake pan shaped like a book, Tucker also created a multilayered gelatin book.
"I spent entirely way too much time on them. But it was so much fun," she said.
Nadine Robertson made "Creating Mosaics" using two slices of bread covered with fruit-roll ups and crushed Jolly Ranchers.
"I think (the contest) is a creative, clever concept," said Nicole Lett, who favored the anatomy display. She and several colleagues from ISU's Campus Dining Services walked over to Milner to check out the edible books.
Their line of work lends a natural interest to the culinary contest, said Lett.
"That, and we love to read," she said.
For more information on the International Edible Book Festival program visit www.books2eat.com .