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Ever wish you could live inside your favorite book? You can at this incredible new place.

There's nothing like sharing a book with your kid — except maybe jumping inside one.

Ever wish you could live inside your favorite book? You can at this incredible new place.

Have you ever wanted to just crawl inside your favorite book and stay there for a while?

Probably the best thing about books is the way they create entire worlds inside our minds. All it takes is a flat piece of paper (or maybe a screen) full of images and words and the limitations of the real world suddenly disappear, thrusting you into a new, expansive universe full of endless possibility.

At least, until you come crashing back down to reality. Lame.


But what if you could physically step inside that delightful and dazzling domain? And what if you could bring your friends with you to share in that otherworldly experience?

All images courtesy of The Rabbit hOle, used with permission.

Welcome to the Rabbit hOle! It's not a metaphor — it's a real-life place where you can celebrate children's literature up close.

Soon to be located in Kansas City (which gives a whole new meaning to "We're not in Kansas anymore" since it's actually Missouri), the Rabbit hOle aims to be the world's first "ExploraStorium" — a fun, fresh fusion of bookstore, discovery museum, playground, creative workshop, and interactive theater performance, all in one fantastical location.

(And yes, that capitalization of "Rabbit hOle" is intentionally stylized.)

The goal is to create a national center for the children's book, where retail, workshops, immersive experiences, and special events all coexist in a multi-level building that, well, literally feels like you're walking through a children's book.

An artist's rendering of the Rabbit hOle, which is still in its early planning stages.

"Building experiences around books in a place like the Rabbit hOle reinforces the culture of literature that nourishes the act of reading. That's as simple as it gets," said co-founder Pete Cowdin.

"There are no places where kids can celebrate the culture of books — no places that affirm and inform the activity of reading, libraries notwithstanding. Until we remedy this, we’ll always be struggling with chronic literacy problems among young people."

For more than 20 years before launching this ambitious endeavor, Cowdin and his partner, Debbie Pettid, ran the cherished Kansas City bookstore Reading Reptile. The store was brimming with 3D pop-up displays and life-size papier-mâché cutouts of beloved children's book characters like Captain Underpants, Mike Mulligan, and more. They even took these immersive aspects on tour with them, setting up temporary installations in libraries, community centers, and other storefronts.

But it still wasn't enough to fit their grandest visions.

The Reading Reptile "was forever and always a retail concern, limited by market forces and tethered to commodity culture," Cowdin said. "We had to build something outside of that space."

Enter: the Rabbit hOle.

The "Captain Underpants Pop-Up Pop-Up!" is one of the many magnificent living book installations that Cowdin and Pettid have created over the years — and an omen of what's to come at the Rabbit hOle.

"What's so brilliant about the Rabbit hOle is that it takes this private exchange, this magical forest, and carries it one step further, making it real," said author Brian Selznick.

Selznick is perhaps best known for creating "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," which inspired the award-winning film "Hugo." So he knows a thing or two about immersive experiences.

He's just one of many big-name authors and publishers getting behind the project, including Kate DiCamillo ("Flora and Ulysses"), Jon Scieszka ("The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales"), Linda Sue Park ("A Single Shard"), and even Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket.

Selznick went on to say, "There's been a lot of excitement in the movie industry regarding 3D movies, but the Rabbit hOle offers us something unique in the literary world: a 3D reading experience."

The interactive aspects of the Rabbit hOle aren't just fun and games. Well OK, they are. But that's exactly why they're great — for everyone, regardless of their age.

"Simply walking into the Rabbit hOle will make age seem irrelevant," Cowdin said. "It’s always been our intention that the Rabbit hOle be a place where kids AND adults come together around books, that the adventure is a shared adventure."

Award-winning author and board member Linda Sue Park added: "I'm thinking of it as multigenerational — as an experience for people of all ages to share. Books connect people through time and across space, and as a museum of the book, the Rabbit hOle will do the same."

That's the best thing about a place like the Rabbit hOle: It reminds us of the value of play.

The simple act of engaging in purposeless fun has been proven to help children and adults alike develop and sharpen problem-solving skills, creativity, relationship building, and so much more. It has a positive impact on the mind as well as the body — and in a modern world where everyone is always on the go, we could all use a good excuse to stop and have some fun.

Opening Day of the Rabbit hOle's first immersive gallery, featuring "The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau."

If all goes according to plan, the Rabbit hOle's ExploraStorium will launch in 2019. In the meantime, here's another way to visualize the magic:

It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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