Story Time with the National Postal Museum: Cori Doerrfeld’s “The Rabbit Listened”

05.19.2020
Blog

By Lauren Maloy, Public Programs Coordinator

The National Postal Museum hosts a story time every Monday morning for our youngest visitors. In the wake of recent events, we have suspended Story Time for the time being, and I dearly miss what was once the highlight of my week. I loved seeing many of the same children each Monday, toddling in with their caregivers and eagerly telling me about what was exciting to them at that exact moment. They tolerated my singing, were ecstatic during our intermission of bubble time, and eagerly awaited the stickers that I doled out at the end of each session. Hosting the Postal Museum’s weekly program lent brightness to my work week, and I look forward to being able to see our Story Time visitors again.

In the meantime, Postal Museum staff have been hard at work reframing our content and programs for virtual consumption, attempting to bring some normalcy to both our lives and yours. One of the programs we were planning for this summer was a special guest story time and workshop with author Cori Doerrfeld. We’re pleased to be able to now present an online reading of “The Rabbit Listened” that Cori filmed for the Postal Museum.

Cori is a children’s book author and illustrator; having read her books before at Postal Museum programs, I can attest to how her stories resonate with children of all ages. “The Rabbit Listened,” in particular, has a unique and meaningful message. It addresses grief, loss, and the ways in which we all struggle to help someone who is going through something sad. Cori eloquently wrote about how this book came to be in her own blog post, so I won’t attempt to explain further, but I do urge you to both read and listen to her words. She conveys something concrete that everyone – adults and children – can do to help. You can be someone’s rabbit, and one of the most thoughtful ways of doing so is to send them something through the mail. Cori’s story has touched many people already and we hope to share its message with this special National Postal Museum Story Time.

Watch Cori’s video for a reading of the book and a short tutorial on how to draw your own rabbit. Below you can also download an accompanying coloring sheet, letter writing prompt, and a “rabbit” certificate.

The Rabbit Listened
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Hello!

My name is Cori Doerrfeld and just like a lot of you, I have felt a lot of emotions lately and miss so many people that I love.

So, what are some of the things we can do when we're feeling sad or angry?

How can we be there for someone we know might also be struggling with their emotions?

Today, we're going to explore some ways we can reach out and let someone know that we care.

To start, I'm going to read a book that I wrote and illustrated called, "The Rabbit Listened."

In this book, you're going to see a lot of different animals that are expressing different emotions as well as different ways of reaching out to someone.

In the end, hopefully we will all see why the rabbit is the most helpful of all. Are you ready?

Okay! "The Rabbit Listened..."

Here, we see the main character and they are pushing a box.

I wonder what's inside of the box? (Small gasp) There were blocks!

(Reading...) One day, Taylor decided to build something.

Something new. Something special.

Something amazing.

Taylor was so proud.

But then (cawing sounds and gushes of wind), out of nowhere, things came crashing down.

And here we can see Taylor feeling sad.

The chicken was the first to notice.

"Cluck cluck!

What a shame! I'm so sorry, sorry this happened!

Let's talk, talk, talk about it!"

(Chicken sounds) But Taylor didn't feel like talking. So the chicken left.

(Chicken sounds) Next came the bear.

(Loud growling sounds) "How horrible! I bet you feel so angry Let's shout about it! GRAAAR!"

But Taylor didn't feel like shouting.

So the bear left.

(Low pitched growling sounds)

The elephant knew just what to do.

(Loud elephant sounds)

"Trumpa-da! I can fix this! We just need to remember exactly the way things were."

But Taylor didn't feel like remembering.

So the elephant also left.

(Quiet elephant sounds)

One by one, they came.

The hyena: "Hee-hee! Let's laugh about it!"

The ostrich: "Gulp! Let's hide and pretend nothing happened!"

The kangaroo: "Tsk tsk! What a mess! Let's throw it all away!"

And the snake: (hissing) "Shhhhh. Let'ssss go knock down someone else'ssss."

But Taylor didn't feel like doing anything with anybody.

So eventually they all left... until Taylor was alone.

In the quiet, Taylor didn't even notice the rabbit.

But it moved closer and closer.

Until Taylor could feel its warm body.

Together they sat in silence until Taylor said, "Please stay with me."

The rabbit listened.

The rabbit listened as Taylor talked.

The rabbit listened as Taylor shouted.

The rabbit listened as Taylor remembered... and laughed.

The rabbit listened to Taylor's plan to hide... to throw everything away... to ruin things for someone else.

Through it all, the rabbit never left.

And when the time was right, the rabbit listened to Taylor's plan to build again.

"I can't wait," Taylor said. (small gasp) "It's going to be amaaaaazing."

Here, we can see that Taylor is going to build a bigger and better tower.

And Taylor is finally feeling happy, thanks to the little rabbit.

The end.

So, hopefully this book helps you see that being like the rabbit is the best way to be there for someone who is struggling with their emotions.

You simply need to listen and let them know that you care.

So, what are some ways that we can do that when we're all stuck home?

Well, you can send something to someone that you miss and care about in the mail!

Now, something that I like to send is art.

So, I'm going to show you how I draw a rabbit and then I'm going to show you some other things you can send as well.

So, here is my easel. I'm going to start with a pencil.

I always start my drawings with very simple shapes.

For a rabbit, we're going to start with two shapes that are kind of like bells or pears.

(drawing) And the one on top is smaller and fatter.

And the one for the body, is a little bit longer.

So, those are my two rabbit shapes: (pointing) head, body.

But our rabbit needs a face. So, a rabbit has two eyes, a nose, and a mouth.

So, (drawing) real easy rabbit eyes are just two ovals. A real easy rabbit nose is the letter "V."

And a really easy rabbit mouth is the letter "W."

And you can add rabbit teeth underneath if you would like!

Now, our rabbit needs some big old listening ears on top, right?

So, these you could think of as big old leaves or bananas that come off the top of the rabbit's head.

And then you can make a smaller one inside the inside of the rabbit's ear.

I like to make fuzzy rabbits, so I add lots of fuzzy hair along those first shapes that I drew.

You can add whiskers - rabbits do have whiskers - and there is our listening rabbit head!

Now, we need to work on the body.

So, if a rabbit is out listening in the wild, it's actually going to be standing up like this so it can hear all around and see if there's any predators coming.

So, our rabbit is going to be standing up on its hind legs.

That means (drawing) its front legs are tucked.

Those front paws... you can really just make another letter "U."

And then kind of a "C" in a backward "C" for the other part of the arm.

And then we need those bigger hind legs down here, right?

So, then it's kind of like you make a letter "C" and then a backward "C" out of fur tracing the bottom of that bell.

And then big old feet on the bottom.

(drawing) And then the bottom of our rabbit's belly.

And the rabbit does need a fluffy tail.

But as for the rest of the drawing, that can be up to you!

Think of the person you're gonna send this to...

Do they have a favorite place?

Do they have a favorite flower?

Do they have a favorite fruit?

You could put that in the background.

And I know this is something you can do because here! (holds up drawing) - my very own son drew this when he was in kindergarten, following the steps that I just showed you.

And he chose to add a moon, stars, and some carrots.

Now, if you don't want to make a drawing, I've made some things you can print out.

You can simply make this coloring sheet (holds up coloring sheet) and send it to someone that you care about and let them know that they are not alone.

You can print out this certificate (holds up certifitcate) and actually let someone know that you are going to be their Certified Rabbit.

That means that you will be there for them - no matter what - to listen to whatever they need to say.

So, you can put their name here and your name here, send it off, and then they'll know that you are a Certified Rabbit.

And then, of course, you could find a piece of paper - or you're welcome to print this out - and you can write someone that you care about a letter and just let them know that you're thinking about them and that you're there for them.

That you are a rabbit and you will be willing to listen and be there for them.

Thank you so much for watching today and I wish you all the best!

Good bye! (waving)

Certified Rabbit certificate
Downloadable Certificate (PDF)
Letter form
Downloadable Letter (PDF)
You Are Not Alone illustration
Downloadable "You Are Not Alone" (PDF)

Cori received a B.A. in studio art from St. Olaf College, as well as her Post Baccalaureate in illustration from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. To date, she has illustrated numerous titles including several self-authored titles. Cori lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is married to comic book artist Tyler Page. Together they have two storytellers in the making-their daughter, Charli and their son, Leo. Discover more of Cori's work at her own site: www.coridoerrfeld.com