Bringing Literature to Life

By day, Bryton Taylor is a social media coordinator in Australia. But outside the office, she is a veritable genius of literary-themed recipes, parties, and crafts! She began blogging about her amazing creative work in 2008, and now readers can browse her extensive range of original recipes and party how-tos, including Harry Potter, The Hobbit, The Great Gatsby, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Rabbit! Katie caught up with Bryt to chat about her adventures in bringing books to life…


Your website, In Literature, began when you shared the recipe and story about your second effort at making the Mad Hatter’s Unbirthday Cake. What changes did you make after the first attempt didn’t go so well? And was your Easter party a success despite the first cake sliding off its plate?

I used a doll cake pan for better structure when I attempted the Unbirthday Cake for the second time. And I’m happy to say the party was a success! The Mad Tea Party decorations made up for the fact that the cake had a few issues. Paper lanterns were strung up above the table, where a toy mouse popped out of a teapot. Large bowls were transformed into oversized teacups which doubled as Easter baskets. Caterpillar shoes stuck out of the vines, where ‘This Way’, ‘Down’, and ‘That Way’ signs set the tone for fantastical madness! It was a great day in the end.

Delightful unbirthday cakes

Do you have a favorite genre of book when you are creating recipes or putting together a themed party?

I find I cover a variety of fiction genres – children’s, classics, young adult, fantasy, mystery. But my favourite books to cover tend to ones that we grew up with. It’s through these stories that we share nostalgic memories, triggering feelings of happiness. Creating recipes and parties around these books will hopefully give others a space to replay their memories, and possibly even make new memories.

Alice in Wonderland tea party

For parents or grandparents, it can be a way of extending the experience of reading with their kids, of creating new shared memories. Recreating Marilla’s raspberry cordial from Anne of Green Gables, Turkish Delight from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, even the tomato sandwich from Harriet the Spy, is a trip down memory lane.

Winnie the Pooh honey cakes

Break down your thought process when you are putting together a unique recipe from a fantasy or dystopian book, such as Elvish lembas bread from The Lord of the Rings or the Snookers and Snookers Birthday Cake from Dr. Seuss. How much research is involved when you are creating your recipes?

It’s so much fun taking an imaginary food description and bringing it to life. When I first started blogging, I gave my imagination free rein to visualize what the food might look like, how it would be presented, and so forth. I had a fabulous time conjuring up Wonka’s Marshmallow Pillow and Three-Course Dinner Gum!

Harry Potter jelly slugs!

Although creativity plays a key role, authenticity is equally important. I depend on research to develop a recipe that is as ‘real’ as possible for a food scene that we all share, particularly where personal memories are attached.

Above all else, I’m a literary food history detective. I look into what literary researchers have uncovered about the author’s inspiration and search within their descriptions for clues about the details. Old cookbooks are scoured along with food trends from either the author’s timeline or from where they drew inspiration. Once I have gathered all the pieces, I then add the essential magic ingredient – a dash of creativity to bring it to life.

What was your most challenging recipe to make or hardest craft to create?

The “Drink Me” potion from Alice in Wonderland was a challenge. The description goes, “it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffy, and hot buttered toast.” My first attempt was a total flop. I discovered that capturing and combining hot roast turkey and hot buttered toast is not an easy feat! It’s still on my to-do list of remakes. I’m continually working through my list of challenging recipes. For example, I’m still on the hunt for the elusive recipe for pickled limes from Little Women.

Alice in Wonderland “Drink Me” potion

What are your most popular posts?

Harry Potter continues to be a favourite, as I’ve created a number of recipes over the years. My copycat recipe for pumpkin juice through to a simple bottle of liquid luck helps people as they start planning their parties. And there are many classics: Ratty’s picnic from Wind in the Willows, Paddington’s marmalade, through to my interpretation of pop cakes from The Magic Faraway Tree.

Wind in the Willows picnic

Where in the world has been your favorite literary location to visit? And where are you hoping to go once travel restrictions are lifted?

I loved visiting Sleepy Hollow, New York in October 2019 along with exploring Kipling’s Vermont and hope to revisit once our world has found some sense of normal again. The east coast of the United States is just brimming with literary locations!

Treasure Island dinner party

How many titles do you currently have in your book collection?

It would take too long to count the number in my collection, but I can definitely say that I will always feel it’s not enough.

Peter Rabbit coat

Can you share any details about a project you are currently working on?

After over a decade of blogging, I’m actually spending this year revisiting and rewriting old posts. However, I’ve got my eye on more Roald Dahl. I still have more rooms to explore in Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

Willy Wonka chocolate bar. Yesssssss!

I have to ask…what Hogwarts House did the Sorting Hat place you in?

I’m proudly a Hufflepuff. I’m happy to say those Hufflepuff interests, of nature, animals and Herbology, also make me well suited to live a life in Hobbiton.

Hobbiton seed trays


Images courtesy of Bryton Taylor

Let’s Labyrinth

Do you have some restless rovers in the house? How about sending them out to build and navigate a custom labyrinth or maze…for less then five dollars! This idea came courtesy of the Princeton Buddist Meditation Group, which hosts this little labyrinth in the community space behind their center.

You’ll need:

  • Open space
  • Rocks

For starters, you need a bit of open space. Any patio, porch, driveway, or sidewalk will do. If you’re in an apartment, you can always clear a room or build a tabletop version.The only other thing you need? Rocks! Bags of these are available at home improvement stores and garden centers. A 0.4cu foot bag of white rocks at Lowe’s, for example, is just $3.98.

To create the labyrinth, simply line the rocks up to form the walls of your winding path, and off you go! If you don’t want to create your own design, there are plenty of labyrinth templates available online for you to replicate.

What’s the difference between a labyrinth and a maze? A labyrinth is a single winding path that ends in the center of the creation. The focus is on the journey. In a maze, the path has choices, dead ends, and may or may not end in the center. The focus is on entering and exiting.

This rock labyrinth can certainly be modified to become a maze. The beauty of using rocks is that you can switch things up at anytime! And if you’d like a slightly crazier maze challenge, why not try our “No Right Turn” maze here?

Griffins are the GREATEST

A baby griffin needs lots of care, attention…and hamburgers! Luckily, our story time kids were more than up to the task. This cuddly companion was part of To Be Continued, our chapter book story time for kids ages 6-8.

Is that tufted tail making your heart melt? Details at the end of the post for how to win a baby griffin of your very own!

We read The Menagerie, written by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland (HarperCollins, 2013). When Logan and his broken-hearted father move to a remote town in Wyoming, Logan’s life gets considerably duller. Or does it? He soon discovers that the town is hiding a secret Menagerie filled with dragons, unicorns, and other mystical creatures. The Menagerie also has a BIG problem, as six griffin cubs have escaped, and need to be located and returned before the Menagerie itself is discovered. Logan and his new-found friends Zoe and Blue race against time, uncovering more then a few secrets along the way.

In the book, Logan and his friends track the baby griffins by spotting feathers they are molting. I hid these fantastic gold-tipped duck quill feathers around our gallery for the kids to find. Each kid needed to find at least two feathers.

Once all the feathers were located, the kids were awarded with stuffed baby griffins (purchased on Amazon)! Hoo boy, the kids were surprised and WAY excited! The loving attachment began immediately, and one little boy sent me multiple photos of his griffin Scorp, who, like another griffin in the book, had a serious hamburger addiction. Scorp also flew with him to Florida!

Would you like to receive a brand new baby griffin of your own? Simply e-mail danas@princeton.edu with the name you would pick for your griffin. We’ll put all the entries in a hat and draw a winner at random on Tuesday, June 16. Good luck!