Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Greatest Cake on Earth

This edible oversized cake is nearly too sweet for words. It is a remarkable replica of one of the 20th century's greatest Russian children's books, Tsirk (Circus) written by Samuil Marshak and illustrated by Vladimir Lebedev. It is also the culinary creation of Eleanor Ionis of Ella's Cakes. In the publishing world, this book facsimile might be considered an infringement of intellectual property, but in this instance, she has artistic license to thrill. No detail was overlooked, including the headbands and page leaves. And just as every book has a story, this "greatest cake on earth" is no exception. 
     To honor the publication of a long-awaited book catalog and exhibition of early 20th century Soviet children's books, this magnificent cake was recently presented to book collector and author of the catalog, Pamela K. Harer by her husband, family and friends. Long an avid collector and scholar of early 19th and 20th century children's books, Pamela Harer has spent years researching and assembling this prized collection of Soviet children's literature, and beginning this week, her curated collection will be on display until October 24, 2014 at the Allen Library, University of Washington, Special Collections in Seattle. Both her collection and breadth of knowledge about these spectacular books are an achievement few others have gained, making it a highly recommended visit. Earlier this week I had a brief opportunity to see the exhibition, and I promise to report on it in much greater detail in coming weeks.

Like any great book, this one was devoured from beginning to end and will not be on display at the library. A 1928 edition of Tsirk (Circus) will do nicely in it's place however.

The poster for Harer's exhibition "From the Lowly Lubok to Soviet Realism" also features Lebedev's cover illustration. Below is a photo of Pamela Harer staring in stunned surprise at the presentation of her wondrous cake.


  1. Wonderful cake, love the photo of the Harer admiring the confection. Wish I lived closer to see this show.

    1. I intend to report back on this influential show as soon as I can!

  2. I'm grateful for seeing this post- and will appreciate more posts as they come. I'm going to try to find a catalogue too. Wish me luck!

  3. Sara, when I visit the exhibit on the 28th I will inquire about the catalog. Pamela was unable to produce the catalog herself, though her family made an effort at completing one. I'm told it was a regrettable example unfortunately.


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