“Eat your words” has never been more true than during Portland’s annual Edible Book Festival, held for about a decade at the main branch of the public library but this year moving to Riverton Elementary School. The event is one of an international series of festivals that “unites bibliophiles, book artists and food lovers to celebrate the ingestion of culture and its fulfilling nourishment,” according to its Facebook page.

Around the world, the Edible Book Festival is timed for early April to coincide with the birthday of Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a famous French gastronome who wrote “The Physiology of Taste.” Even if you’ve never heard of him, you’ve probably heard his most famous words: “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”

Participants make edible creations, often cakes, inspired by favorite books, punning on book titles or sometimes simply in the shape of a book. The entries are judged at the festival; then, they’re eaten. Past entries in Portland include To Grill a Mockingbird (a sheetcake iced in orange with black licorice grills, Oreo cookie grill trim, and a marzipan mocking bird lying on its side), The Lord of the Pies (a homemade pie topped with a marzipan decapitated pig and a pair of glasses) and The Gingerbread Man (four panels – or pages – made from gingerbread with a gingerbread man running through them, all set on a platter decorated with edibles to resemble Candyland).

Rachel Harkness, library programming manager and one of the organizer’s of this year’s Edible Book Festival, encourages anyone to enter. Part of the beauty of the event, she said, is that participants may be fairly low-skill but eager bakers, a creative kid with a fun idea, or a very gifted cake decorator with an intricate, complex edible work of art.

“It’s a very low bar to enter,” she said.

Organizers seek book lovers and bakers in a variety of age categories (elementary, middle and high school, adult) as well as group entries and those from “Food & Beverage Professionals.” The professional category is new.

“It’s a really fun activity to do with your family,” said Celeste Biron-Libby, a teacher at Riverton Elementary and also an organizer. “It’s a nice collaboration with each other. To do something – even old-fashioned – to read a book together, talk about the book, and create something with it.”

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