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Peep show...or how, nevertheless, the Little Red Hen persisted

Spring has sprung around Boston! Daffodils are blooming, birds are singing, and our library is hosting a “Peep Literary Diorama Exhibition.” This year, my family got in on the fun with our own entry.

I’m using family and our loosely.

I thought my kids would be excited about the idea of making a shoe-box diorama inspired by one of our favorite books. We had fun going over some ideas (Where’s Waldo?; The Book with No Pictures); if you’ve read this post, you should be able to guess which book “we” selected as inspiration. I eagerly picked up an entry form at the library and bought a package of bunny Peeps (for the first time in my life — not a marshmallow fan). Back at home, though...a different, frustratingly familiar story unfolded.

“Um, Mom, that’s your project.” (10 ½ year old)

“I never said I wanted to do it. You have fun.” (9 ½ year old)

Finn Family Moomintroll. Photo: Paul Brodeur

Okay, fine. Maybe if I start the project, I thought, they’d join in. A couple of years ago, they might have. But sadly, any excitement my kids may have had about creating little Peep-size clothes and accessories out of construction paper has dimmed. One son grudgingly contributed a stream and a raft, the other made a tree and instructed me to "make a bunch of copies of this tree and there's your forest."

I did learn two things, however.

#1: I have found my calling! Like the Little Red Hen, I was disappointed that no one would help me make the bread, so to speak, but once I got going on the project, I was obsessed. (If I’m going to be honest, I sort of preferred not having to deal with anyone else’s input.) The final product isn’t going to win awards, but if you know of any job openings for a Peep diorama designer, DM me. I’m enthusiastic, if nothing else.

#2: When a door closes, a window opens? Every cloud has a silver lining?  [Insert favorite optimistic cliche here.] As too-cool-for-Peeps-projects as my kids think they are, they were interested in checking out the other entries on display (see below). So off we went to the library last Saturday afternoon.

And here’s the good news part. No, we aren't forming a mother-son Peep diorama design team (yet). I'm talking about how, if we're open to it, serendipity happens at the library. After viewing the Exhibition, the boys gravitated over to the graphic novel section. We checked out (at my urging) Victoria Jamieson’s Newbery Honor–winning graphic novel, Roller Girl, which isn’t a title they’d pick on their own (“I’ve seen that one at school. All the girls take it out”). On the car ride home, my younger son started looking at the book. Later that night, I read a few pages aloud. There was a fight (yay?) over who got to read the book in bed. (There were tears.) One kid was placated with Raina Telgemeier’s Smile (diorama #14 in the slideshow below). We went back to the library on Sunday and took out Victoria’s All’s Faire and Raina’s Drama. Last night, my older son asked about Sisters (Raina), which he’d also noticed the girls in his class checking out of the library. Gender blinders, be gone!

If you build it (a Peep diorama), they will come (around to trying something new).

Kitty Flynn
Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.
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Elaw, you give me too much credit. I went through a few unbecoming stages of grief (anger, bargaining, depression) as I began the project. I guess I was a tortured artist. And if I liked eating Peeps, I wouldn’t wait until the kids were asleep to eat them (Peeps, not kids). I would have eaten them in plain sight...which would have had no effect because the kids would ignore me in favor of screens. Thank YOU for appreciating my efforts. ❤️

Posted : Apr 18, 2019 11:34

Elizabeth Law

This is one of the best Horn Book blog entries I have ever read. I would have given up once my kids displayed no willingess to help, microwaved two Peeps on a toothpick (try it), then gobbled the rest of the package when the kids were asleep. Bravo, Kitty! And to all the others who made those amazing dioramas, bravo to you, too.

Posted : Apr 17, 2019 07:31


Jon Howard! Next year!! I just may need to submit a few entries.

Posted : Apr 17, 2019 06:17

Jon Howard

What, no Peepy Longstocking? I guess the kids aren't reading that these days.

Posted : Apr 17, 2019 05:35


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