Every few months we have to create a new window display at The Toy Soldier. With the release of a movie based on one of my favorite picture books, Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, I got the green light to do a Wild Things window. My one challenge was to not spend any money on display materials. I do love challenges, almost as much as revisions.
When I create a new display, I first walk around the store to see what tie-in products I can use. Do we have extra copies of the book to use in the window? Are there enough stuffed creatures to display, while leaving a sufficient quantity accessible for selling. I need ground coverage, objects to frame the window, and enough product to create a barrier to keep the children from climbing into the space and knocking everything down. Why? They want to ride the rocking horse or play the child-size piano or hug the giant polar bear or press their nose against the window to watch the ducks, which would require they plow through the toys across the wooden platform, and all in a matter of two seconds. This has happened before. You usually hear the commotion before you confront the actual damage. Then you check that the child or children are unharmed, return them back to the adults in charge, walk down the ramp to the register, pop an aspirin or two, hope a school bus isn’t going to pull up at any second to release a group of teenagers, who will storm into the store and grab all the pop-guns, and then take a deep breath. Well, maybe this window wasn’t exactly right.
Once I gather several copies of the book and stuffed characters, I begin to tear down the existing display. I shelve the product, sweep the wooden platform, wash the window, run outside to keep some kids from terrorizing the ducks outside, and tap into my creativity. Don’t go out and buy anything. Hmm? My brain starts to click. I see things in my house that would work great. After confirming I can leave the other employee at the store, I dash home. Pull boats and plastic fall leaves out of my everything-I-don’t-know-where-to-put-or-don’t-have-time-to-deal-with room and throw them into my car. I remember a stool my daughter had and no longer wants, fabric in my sewing room, plastic vines. Two blocks from my house, I remember the wooden crate. I turn the car around.
With my trunk full, I drive back to the store with thoughts pinging within my brain. I am excited. The concept for the window takes shape.
Back at the store, I begin to design the window; drape fabric over the boxes, twist the vine around the window frame. Check the order of events within the book. Create the story from beginning to end, from one side of the window to the other.
The window complete, now all I have to do is convince young children that “Yes, this is not a new movie which someone recently wrote. This started with a book. A marvelous book by Maurice Sendak, which you must read.” And so, I read it to them. They leave with smiles on their faces, bags with purchased copies, while roaring “You are a wild thing.”
When the day has ended and the pop-guns are neatly lined up, I step outside and admire the new window. I say thanks for the opportunity to be able to work at The Toy Soldier. It is a place where magic and creativity and the love of children’s literature all come together.