Librarian adds Coastal twist to Christmas tale

This holiday season, one Biloxi artist used her talents to create a South Mississippi version of a popular Christmas Eve tale.

Children’s librarian and artist Kelly Derouen has had to adjust to a new way of telling stories in the age of COVID-19. Now, Derouen is reaching her audience virtually every week with illustrated stories that feature a South Mississippi flair. “Once we had the lockdown, I got it started to try to not only bring the stories to kids for story time that they miss on Thursday mornings, but to also let them know that the same things that they see in the cartoons, they could go take a walk in our own nature and see themselves.”

Kelly once used this studio setup for her stories. She’d place her phone on top and record each illustration at the bottom, but has since progressed to using graphics software.

For Christmas time this year, Derouen decided to put that local twist on a popular Christmas Eve tale. “‘Twas the Night before Christmas on the Causeway’” features crews of animals native to this area waiting for Santa by the Popp’s Ferry Causeway. “I’ve always liked the Cajun Night Before Christmas and I read that every year to the kids, that will always be a favorite for everyone around here, but I just wanted to not to compete with it, but just to give something a little more updated, and something a little more local, because that’s more Louisiana.”

Derouen says the inclusion of animal characters within the plot, such as Play-Doh the Pelican, helps children relate to the story better. “I just think the kids relate more to animals than they do to people, and they don’t understand a lot of things we tell them, but they can relate when they see it in a story with animals that they can recognize.”

At the end of what has been a tough year, the hope is that this coastal Christmas tale will lift everyone’s spirits from Pascagoula to Pass Christian and beyond. “I had to force myself to do things to bring my own spirits up, and hopefully it will bring everybody else up at the same time.”

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