For the past several weeks, visitors to the Shute Park Library in Hillsboro have been greeted by handmade displays inspired by famous children's books.
Library staff say that the papier-maché and knitted displays, crafted by a local resident and her daughter, have drawn a lot of attention. Katie Lewis and her oldest child, Olivia, say that they were inspired by classic children's books.
"Originally, we had just planned to do some little houses with dolls, but then decided it would be even more fun if we did scenes from some of our favorite classic children's books," Lewis said.
But where did the Hillsboro Public Library come into the picture?
The Lewises moved to Hillsboro about a year ago. The first time they visited the Brookwood Library they noticed empty display cases in the front. They got the idea to do a craft project to fill those glass cases with something.
Hand-made displays of scenes from their favorite children's books came to mind.
"We chose children's book classics that our own family has loved and that we knew would be widely-recognized by others visiting the library," said Lewis. "We also chose books that had easily-recognizable scenes we could depict in papier-maché."
The books being featured include: "Anne of Green Gables" by L. M. Montgomery, "The Boxcar Children" by Gertrude Chandler Warner, "Fortunately" by Remy Charlip, "Madeline" by Ludwig Bemelmans, "The Jungle Book" by Rudyard Kipling, and "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis.
Six displays dot the glass cases in the Shute Park branch's breezeway, made out of painted papier-maché built onto a cardboard base. Lewis got the idea to add sewn dolls to add characters to the displays — all of which were made using a tiny ragdoll sewing pattern popularized by Ann Wood, an artist with an online shop that Lewis likes.
The displays instead went up at the Shute Park branch, though there are apparently plans to move some of them over to the Brookwood branch later this month.
The process for making the displays took a bit longer than they bargained for. They started about a year ago, with a couple of them already made but later displays took a lot longer to complete, Lewis said.
"We started last year with a lot of enthusiasm and then kind of lost some steam," she said. "All told, it was probably a couple weeks of work spread out over a long time."
Lewis's daughter Olivia said that the Narnia display was probably the hardest, since it had the most independent pieces. It features the titular wardrobe, fully stocked with clothing, that swings open so you can see the portal into the magical land thought up by the author in the mid-20th Century.
The project was a way of giving back to their community, while also providing some hands-on fun during homeschooling. Like many families, the Lewises decided to teach their three children from home — like they did when Olivia was younger — instead of sending them to in-person schooling during the pandemic.
Now, though, Lewis's children are looking forward to going in-person in the next school year. As for the displays, which will be moved to the Brookwood Library sometime this month, they hope the community appreciates the extra color and creativity they add to the library entrance.
"We just made them for fun," Lewis said. "We loved bringing the scenes to life and hope others in our community enjoy seeing them when they visit the library!"
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