Cakes for Book Launches
In 2006 when ‘Queenie: One Elephant’s Story’ hard-cover edition was released by Black Dog Books, the book was launched at the Melbourne Museum with about 400 people. The launch even made the Channel 9 News, which was both thrilling and terrifying for me – the launch speech was the first speech I’d ever given – apart perhaps from a 10 minute talk on Caroline Chisholm in Year 7! The previous day there had been a slight mishap re a launch cake, so restricted by the width of my oven and on the condition I could acquire decorative elephants, I set out to make a cake.
My attempt was far removed from the magnificent cakes made for Queenie each year on her birthday, the 1939 cake ingredients were listed as: 100 eggs, 100 cups of flour, 30 lb. butter, 30 lb. sugar, 40 lb fruit and nuts. At the time they searched all over Melbourne for suitable elephant ornaments and ended up with ‘little sugar-coated elephants’.
In 2006 when I rang the Greensborough Cake Decorating Centre asking for elephants, the reply was, ‘all we have are about 20 little sugar-coated elephants’. I bought them all.
In January last year the book was re-launched in paperback format, published by Black Dog Books, then an imprint of Walker Books Australia. This launch was at the Melbourne Zoo, where Queenie lived most of her life and again I contacted the Greensborough Cake Decorating Centre who offered to subsidize the cake and to follow Peter Gouldthorpe’s illustration of the cake in the book. The cake was truly magnificent and when the day was over and the cake eaten, the cake shop kindly made me a ‘pretend cake’ which I take with me when I visit schools, libraries, bookshops and seniors’ groups talking about Queenie: One Elephant’s Story. Children love the cake, the most popular question being . . . ‘Can we eat it?’ followed closely by ‘Can we touch it?’ and ‘Can we smell it?’
With the US Version released on June 11 by Candlewick Press and some lovely reviews rolling in, including one from the Wall Street Journal, it was timely that yesterday I picked up the Queenie cake, which was having some repairs (along with the Hey Baby Cake, also made by the Greensborough Cake Decorating Centre) and they kindly repaired both cakes free of charge.