My favorite book find at AWP this year is I Take Back the Sponge Cake by Loren Erdrich and Sierra Nelson.
I Take Back the Sponge Cake is a lyrical choose-your-own-adventure that is ageless—as in, the book transforms its adult readers back into children. The book uses sound-alike words to create a variety of paths through the book. Take this gorgeous page for example:
I first encountered this book at a post-punk-era punk bar where Loren and Sierra were giving a reading. We cheered and clapped as Sierra and Loren presented us with word choices. I have never seen the relationship between reader, writer, artist, and viewer shine so brightly as in the dimly lit bar.
The illustrations by Loren Erdrich are dream abductions—the drawings triggering narratives that beg for continuation. Sierra Nelson’s poems are brimming with possibility. Anything can, and will, happen in this book the choices.
To celebrate this book I took it to Forever 21—a store devoted to the forever young. In middle-school girl tradition, I took photo booth shots of I Take Back the Sponge Cake and left them in the trusty hands of manikins.
This book is the adventure I’ve been craving—an adventure in homophones. I tested this book in my classroom, and it works like magic; I hope to formally teach it next semester. Great thanks to Loren and Sierra for making the density of language fun.