Behind the Scenes with Mrs. Raccoon and Chester
From school supplies to first day jitters, back to school season is here!
Does your family have a special tradition for transitioning into or back to school? Do you sing a special song or do a goofy dance to get everyone through the morning jitters? Inspired by the best selling book The Kissing Hand, we created videos to help the littlest ones in your life transition back to - or even into - school. With help from our friends at Sleepy Planet Parenting, we transformed their Five Tips on Overcoming Separation Anxiety on the First Day of School into four adorable videos for families with school-aged kiddos.
Over the course of a few weeks, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop designed, sculpted, and built Mrs. Raccoon, Chester, and the various props we used in the videos. We created storyboards and wrote scripts for the four videos, based off of the five tips Sleepy Planet Parenting shared. Then, with help from our wonderful puppeteers, we were able to bring Mrs. Raccoon and Chester to life! As we started this project, we learned that so many parents within The Jim Henson Company and our partners use this book with their families each school season - which added another special layer to this project.
When it came time to build the puppets, our team looked to the masterminds at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop to bring Chester and Mrs. Raccoon to life! Pete Brooke, Creative Supervisor at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, started with a simple sketch of Chester then moved into sculpting the head, hands, and feet in clay. From there, the Creature Shop team used the sculpted pieces to mold and cast the body parts out of foam latex materials, and then attached it all to the foam bodies. Fur was then added to the puppets through a combination of laying by hand and flocking. Finally, they added the finishing touches - which included trimming the fur around the top of the face into a more heart like shape.
voila! Chester and Mrs. RAccoon!
This book was such a tremendous help to our family, as our daughter had such terrible separation anxiety all through her early childhood. We gave each other kissing hands daily, and it really helped her remember that Mom is always with her, no matter what. Now my daughter’s away at college...and her Mom needs a kissing hand more than she does! Good thing they never expire!
- Donna Kimball, puppeteer Mrs. Raccoon
I wish I had The Kissing Hand when I was a child to help me adjust from being away from my parents. I think The Kissing Hand is a perfect fit for The Jim Henson Company, with it’s beautiful settings, wonderful characters, and heartfelt songs and stories. I am proud to be part of this project and continue this legacy.
- John Tartaglia, puppeteer Chester