The Rabbit Hole or “It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it can’t suck.”
This is big. Maybe the biggest idea in the realm of children’s literature I’ve seen in years. Possibly my entire career. I don’t like using the term “gamechanger” but I can’t think of a better word in this particular case.
Okay. So imagine, if you will, a new children’s book museum. But where that term would usually invoke images of adult-centric locations, The Rabbit Hole is going to be immersive. They’re bandying about the term “Explorastorium” which gets you a bit closer to what they’re doing. Think of a children’s museum or an exploratorium, but instead of water tables and those blue bendy foam construction pieces you have kids bouncing in and out of their favorite books. Imagine you literally walk into what appears to be scenes from the book itself. You might have seen similar ideas done when museums do exhibits on famous authors of the past. When NYPL did its “The ABC of It” exhibit you found yourself in The Great Green Room of Goodnight Moon. And when there was a William Steig exhibit at the Jewish Museum of New York, you walked into a room where everything looked like it had been drawn by his hand.
But think bigger than that.
To get the full flavor, you need to sit down and read this article from The Kansas City Star: Rabbit Hole aims to make KC world capital of children’s books, top U.S. publishers sign on. From it you’ll get an inkling of what this space will be (watch the video there as well). Otherwise how else are you going to hear about how this fall the folks behind the project are going to transform a city bus into the bus from “Last Stop on Market Street.”
An ambitious project set for the fall is the so-called Mobile Storybook. In cooperation with the KCATA, The Rabbit Hole crew would transform a city bus into the bus from “Last Stop on Market Street,” a 2015 Newbery and Caldecott winner by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson. The unveiling would coincide with the national conference of the Urban Libraries Council, giving The Rabbit Hole more exposure. The story would unfold along the route with digital animations on LED window glass, audio landscapes, and sculptures of characters inside the bus. As riders board the bus, they can pick up copies of the book to read along. They can also “check out” the books and return them at any public library. Cowdin hopes the magic bus will run on both a regular route and customized tours.
And I thought the Crossover float in Evanston’s 4th of July parade last year was impressive. Sheesh!
Even as I read about the hopes and dreams going into this campaign (“permanent features such as, perhaps, a giant version of Mike Mulligan’s steam shovel, Mary Anne, rising out of a hole, or the forest from ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ where children can swing on branches with Max”) I am filled with an odd mixture of complete joy and incredible seething envy and jealousy. It’s a good kind of seething envy and jealousy. The kind where you suddenly want to be a part of this project so badly that you’ll do anything to make that happen. Including giving money.
To make this space happen, an Indiegogo campaign is in the works. Go to their site and you’ll see video after video after video about this space. The one with the authors (Jon Scieszka, Brian Selznick, Kate DiCamillo, and more!) is particularly good.
Additionally, in this fundraiser you can purchase lots of fun things donated by many writers and illustrators, though any donation would be appreciated.
Guys, I don’t give money to anything. But I’m going to give to this. And I don’t usually tell you to give your hard earned cash to anything, but I think that this is important.
For more information, check out this interview Pete conducted with The Groove Juice Special Radio Hour For Children & Other Brave Souls.
Also be sure to check out the YouTube channel for The Rabbit Hole. Great stuff there.
Filed under: Press Release Fun
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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