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Project Child’s Play

Project Child's Play

Fashion and children’s literature icon Heidi struts onto the runway, leading one of her goats on a chic, to-die-for leash.

HEIDI: Hello, everyvon and velcome to da runvay! I am your host, Heidi. This is Ziegfried. Your challenge vas to design a fresh new look for some of children’s literature’s biggest icons. Von of you vill be da vinner of this challenge, and von of you…vill be out. Let’s meet da judges!

Fresh from Mr. McGregor’s garden, fashion designer and style icon Mr. Peter Rabbit!

PETER RABBIT: Hellooo, darlings! Call me P.R.!

HEIDI: From the streets of Paris, where she walked da two straight lines of classic style and wild gypsy élan, our own Madeline!

MADELINE: ’Allo, everyone!

HEIDI: Our guest judge tonight is as famous for his sleek Italian line of clothing for real boys as he is for his brutal honesty. Pinocchio!

PINOCCHIO: Grazie, molto grazie, Heidi! I am overwhelmed by the honor of being asked to be a part of this wonderful, glorious show! And to be in the presence of such prestigious fellow-judges! It’s such a privilege that I can barely—whooooops! Oh, no! No! Not on TV! Wait a minute! What I meant to say was: This will be an interesting experience! There! That’s better!

JudgesHEIDI: Let’s start da show!

Later, the three finalists have left the runway—one has flounced off—and the judges are having a little chat.

HEIDI: Judges, let’s talk about da vons vee liked. Vat did vee think about Puss in Boots’s new look for Eloise?

MADELINE: J’adore the new Eloise!

HEIDI: Puss in Boots really did a great job.

P.R.: Just taming that—to quote Eloise’s Nanny—gawd-awful hair made such a difference! The dreadlocks—fabulous! And brilliant choice keeping her in separates.

EloisePINOCCHIO: The Princess lines—so slimming!—especially on someone with a real-girl figure.

P.R.: And now I’m asking myself, why was she wearing that puffy-sleeved white blouse and that horrendous pleated skirt for all those years? I mean, come on. Isn’t her mother supposed to be a friend of Lily Daché, for crying
out loud?

HEIDI: I haff never understood those straps on dat skirt…

MADELINE: Not to mention zose peenk bloomers!

Heidi, Madeline, Pinocchio, and P.R. all shake their heads and make tutting noises.

P.R.: Well, I would have accepted almost anything Puss in Boots came up with for Eloise, but I have to say I was thrilled with her new look. But did anyone else notice the sloppy hemline?

HEIDI: He ran out of time again, I’m thinking? Vat did you all think about the accessories?

PINOCCHIO: I was so pleased to see her out of Mary Jane shoes…

P.R.: Oh, thank god! Such a cliché! The new high tops were inspired. They said “young,” they said “active”…

MADELINE: Yes, and eet definitely said “urban,” which we want for Eloise. Very witty, I thought.

HEIDI: I don’t know…did they detract from the overall look?

PINOCCHIO: Maybe if they had been black instead of that violent cerise?

P.R.: I was just so happy that Puss in Boots didn’t trot out yet another set of boots. It was a pop of color, maybe just too loud a pop?

ALL: Maybe…maybe so…

HEIDI: Let’s talk about Cinderella’s new look for Little Boy Blue.

P.R.: Oh, my GOD! That was a disaster!

MADELINE: An absolute disaster. Zut alors! I could not look.

P.R.: I mean, can Cinderella show us anything else? It’s the same costume-y look over and over! And why on earth would you take away that classic blue that he’s known for, for goodness sake, and put him in—I don’t even know what to call that color! Was it some sort of Marshmallow-Easter-Egg-Rainbow-Brite mauve?

PINOCCHIO: I have to say, I liked the impudence of that silhouette.

HEIDI: (after a pause) Uh-oh! I think dat you are maybe not telling the whole truth?

PINOCCHIO: (flustered) Well, very truthfully, it made him look—I hate to say this—but he actually looked like a prom queen.

MADELINE: Zat is all she has shown us! Either a ball gown or zee dress for za prom. Quel horreur!

P.R.: Exactly! The challenge was not to make the icons completely unrecognizable! Or to put them in drag! It was to update their look! I was dumbstruck! He could have been on a float in the Toyland Parade! A complete miss.

PINOCCHIO: Absolutely wrong for him; especially for someone with such an earthy realism as Little Boy Blue.

P.R.: Those spangles! The bugle beads!
My god!

HEIDI: And Cinderella vas not at all interested in vat vee had to say, either.

MADELINE: Oh, and to tell us zat ice-cream pink was going to be zee new pastel blue? We are not idiots, non?

P.R.: I just wanted to say to her, ‘Listen, Princess, you might think you’re all that because you design for an exclusive clientele now, but please.’ Let’s be honest, who in her kingdom is going to tell Cinderella that she only designs looks fit for balls? That’s just not real life! Show us some day wear, for heaven’s sake!

PINOCCHIO: I did enjoy the flocks of songbirds that continuously fluttered around that look, though. It was really quite daring.

MADELINE: Oui, zat part did actually work. Not many designers could carry that off.

P.R.: Hell-ooo! Busy much? No one could carry that off!

HEIDI: Okay, so vee agree dat look did not so much vork. Vat did vee think about Eeyore’s look for Raggedy Ann?

P.R.: Oh, I mean, come on! Give me a break! He actually kept those red-and-white horizontal striped leggings!

MADELINE: I cannot look. My eyes are bleeding from zees leggings.

PINOCCHIO: Well, I disagree! The leggings are part of her iconic look. I wouldn’t have recognized her without them. (after a pause) I’m telling the truth!

P.R.: Well, dotted Swiss fabric was part of Heidi’s look, too, but she’s not completely bedecked in it anymore! God! We all know how I feel about leggings anyway—but those!

HEIDI: I am still wearing the dotted Swiss! You just can’t see it anymore!

Nervous laughter from all.

P.R.: Oh, my god!

HEIDI: Eeyore’s designs up to this point have been so Goth; I vas happy to see a little brightness. And dose leggings drew attention to Raggedy Ann’s gorgeous gams, but I think she’s maybe de only doll who has de legs for dat.

P.R.: Well, I was thrilled to see Rags in a simple cocktail dress and out of that boring pinafore finally.

MADELINE: I cannot remember zee last time I have seen a pinafore?

PINOCCHIO: Little House on the Prairie?

P.R.: Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies?

HEIDI: Dat is like the Ice Age in fashion!

P.R.: Well, the update for Rags was well overdue. We disagree on the leggings, but the toned-down hair—

MADELINE: Zat auburn!

P.R.:—in a sleek bun? Fabulous! Could not have been more fabulous!

MADELINE: Trés chic. And—comment dit-on?—completely on trend.

HEIDI: And her makeup! Her eyes—not so button-y.

MADELINE: Zat smoky eye gave her so much more depth.

PINOCCHIO: And when we asked the model to scrooch down so we didn’t see so much of the leggings—

ALL: “…so much better!” “Miles better!” “God, yes!”

The discussion continues until a decision is finally reached. The designers are called back to the runway. Heidi addresses them while Ziegfried nibbles on his leash.

HEIDI: Designers, as you know, in fashion and in children’s literature, von day you are in and the next day—or hundreds of years later—you’re out. Puss in Boots, vee loved da new Eloise—very urban and soigné. And you were de only von to show us separates. However, while we were happy to see you step away from showing us another pair of boots, her shoes were maybe a bit too much the wrong color and were distracting. And, once again, your tailoring vas not so polished.

Cinderella, even though vee did not like to see Little Boy Blue in pink, and were hoping to not see him in a ball gown, vee did admire your commitment to your vision. Vee also thought that accessorizing with a flock of songbirds was a bold new choice.

Eeyore, your re-invention of Raggedy Ann showed us a surprisingly cheerful side of you! While vee disagreed about the leggings (P.R. can be heard in background: “God!”), vee appreciated that you left in Raggedy Ann’s signature red-and-white stripes instead of insisting on your usual palette of blacks and grays.

Dramatic pause. Throbbing music rises.

HEIDI: Eeyore, congratulations! You are da vinner of this challenge! You gave Raggedy Ann an entirely new, quirky-punk-glam look while hanging on to her signature red-and-white leggings. And, you did not give up your own individual style. Da look was modern, imaginative, sophisticated, and even a little naughty. I myself vould vear this look. Good job! You may leave the runway.

Eeyore shakes his head in disbelief and mumbles his thanks to the judges. He shambles off the stage.

HEIDI: Puss in Boots, Cinderella; dat means dat von of you vill be out!

Almost unbearably long pause. Music swells to headache-inducing levels.

HEIDI: Cinderella, you’re out! While vee appreciate your daring in using flocks of songbirds to accessorize, you showed us, vonce again, another ball gown. Vee asked you in da last two challenges to show us something new.

Also, while vee had asked for an update on da look of a children’s book icon, vee did not vant you to go so far overboard. Putting Little Boy Blue in pink, and in a dress, vas a mistake. Auf Wiedersehen! (kiss-kiss!)

Close-up of Eeyore backstage.

EEYORE: Well, it’s my first win…and it’s probably my last.

Backstage, after the hissing, braying, and sobbing has subsided, a red-faced and disheveled Cinderella spits at the camera.

CINDERELLA: Well, those (bleep)ing judges are just, plain wrong! They clearly have a very old-fashioned idea of what fashion is. Bunch of (bleep) (bleep)ing (bleep) fuddie-duddies! (Bleep)! I can’t believe I’m out! Little Boy Blue looked fabulous! Especially in that off-the-shoulder neckline! Everyone looks fabulous in ball gowns, and looking (bleeping) fabulous is what fashion is all about! They have no (bleep)ing imagination! [Crying now.] You have to be visionary! I cannot believe I lost to that (bleep)ing (bleep) ass! My Fairy Godmother says that everything happens for a reason, so I’m thinking I’m out because I’m too much of a threat! Don’t worry, I am certainly not going to stop designing! I’ve already submitted sketches for the next Toyland Parade’s “Bears of Fairytale Land” float. With my genius, those Bears are gonna look (bleep)ing magnificent!

Roll credits.

ANNOUNCER: Stay tuned for “The Housewives of Fairytale Land!” Will Snow White and Red Riding Hood resolve their quarrel? Is Sleeping Beauty really going to change her name back to Briar Rose? Can the Little Mermaid cope with the pressures of life on Land? And how are the new couple, Tinkerbell and Captain Hook, fitting in to Fairytale Land?

Close shot of Tinkerbell.

TINKERBELL: I don’t belong here with these crazy-(bleep) people. They’re all exactly alike: beautiful, obedient victims—not one of them had a real job before she was married! It’s like the (bleep)ing Stepford Fairytale Wives around here! Sick of it!

—Elizabeth Thomas

Illustrations by Lauren Kim.

Elizabeth Thomas About Elizabeth Thomas

Elizabeth Thomas has an MFA from Hamline University in Writing for Children & Young Adults. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.



  1. Michele Belluomini says:

    Hilariously brilliant!!!

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  1. […] Project Child’s Play Designing a fresh new look for some children’s literature icons. Who vill be da vinner of this challenge? […]

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