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The Covid19 pandemic has been tough on kids…no school, no play dates, no visits to the park or playground. But in one corner of 21 country you'll hear no complaints. “It really does spark a sense of adventure I think for people, for children,” says Kristen Johnson of the Kendallville Chamber of Commerce. No complaints in Noble County because kids here are too busy trying to figure out who the new neighbors are. They live in tiny homes behind tiny doors near businesses, schools, parks. Behind the doors live fairies and gnomes and trolls, little friends who've come to entertain and educate. It's part of an adventure devised by the Kendallville Public Library, Chamber of Commerce and Noble County Visitors Bureau. “We were talking about something that we could do in the community that supports early childhood literacy,” says Johnson, “and something that was free and fun for families to do with their young children.” This project is very clever. Once a kid finds a door she can snap a picture of the QR code next to it with a phone and be taken to a website, adventurenoblecounty.com, where she can read all about the little family that lives behind that door. This is professor Hewitt Wisewicket's home outside the Kendallville Library. He welcomes patrons to what he calls the 'Hall of Knowledge'. Clarissa Cloudmiffin, a young gnome has taken up residence outside a consignment shop in Albion. Clarissa will tell you that she, not surprisingly, loves to collect old things. Patty Plumperbunns's home is outside the Central Noble School Corporation building. Patty's a fairy who whispers encouragement in the ears of struggling students. These little doors create a fantastical world that some kids can take very seriously. “A lot of times children will leave little trinkets and gifts for their fairy friends,” says Johnson. “A little boy outside the doughnut shop and he was seen screaming at the door 'Are you in there? Are you in there?'” The project began two years ago with 25 doors around the county. There are now 75 with more to be added next year. It's done all its creators had hoped, brought in tourists, attracted customers to businesses and, most importantly, captured young imaginations and encouraged them to read. A skill that for the rest of their lives will open all sorts of doors. Eric Olson reporting out in 21 Country.

Eric Olson

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