Doug Boilesen 2022
A story about a man baking
a pancake cake for his cat that has three birthdays a year might
seem like an unlikely book to have so many illustrated phonographs
"The Birthday cake,"
however, is more than a book with its five gramophone illustrations
created by Swedish story-teller and artist Sven Nordqvist (six counting
the miniature gramophone on the book's cover - see above). For
Friends of the Phonograph, this book speaks for itself beyond
the number of illustrated gramophones and is one of the most delightful
and whimsical books on Phonographia's bookshelf of PhonoLiterature.
The first appearance
in this story of Pettson's' gramophone begins the sequence of events
that must take place if the pancake cake for the birthday of his
cat Findus was to be made. For Pettson it was logicially simple:
without flour there would be no cake. And that's where the gramophone
would literally be heard and play is role.
Pettson needs to ride
his bike to town to get the flour for the birthday cake. Unfortunately
his neighbor's bad-tempered bull is near the woodshed where Pettson
has to go to get a ladder.
Why is moving the bull
in the critical path of baking the birthday cake? Pettson explains
problem to Findus as follows:
"if we can't trick the bull
into moving, I can't fetch the ladder and then I can'gt get the
fishing rod down from the loft and then I can't get into the shed
and get my tools and then I can't mend the bike and then I can't
ride to the shop and buy some flour and then there'll be no birthday
Pettson also knew how
he might be able to trick this bull.
So he went to the sitting
room where he kept his gramophone with its hornshaped loudspeaker
and then picked up the gramophone with a record.
Pettson also took the
red and yellow flowered curtains to tie onto the tail of Findus.
He then went to the field
to place the gramophone at the gate where the bull was sleeping.
Pettson wound it up and put on a record and played its song called
"To sea" sung by Jussi Bjorling.
wake anyone up," chuckled the old man delightedly.
The bull wasn't happy about the noise
from the record and charged towards the gramophone. But now Findus
could help and with the red and yellow-flowered curtains tied around
Findus's tail the attention of the bull was captured. Findus managed
to be faster and to eventually tire out the bull so that Pettson
could retrieve the ladder.
There were many other 'tasks' that
had to be completed before Pettson was finally able to fix the tire,
ride to the shop to buy the flour, return home and then bake the
Suffice it to say that by the final
page it's time for the birthday party with Pettson sitting in the
garden "drinking coffee and eating cake and playing Viennese
waltzes on the wind-up gramophone, just as they usually did when
Findus had a birthday."