The Rabbit hOle was founded in 2015 by Pete Cowdin and Debbie Pettid, longtime artists and operators of the Reading Reptile, one of America’s most beloved children’s bookstores for nearly 30 years. 

Because of their reputation as innovators and their vast network of relationships throughout the publishing industry, The Rabbit hOle enjoys the support of hundreds of award-winning authors and illustrators from around the country, giving it unprecedented access to the licensed content and properties that will populate its exhibitions. In addition, Cowdin and Pettid bring with them an extensive and fiercely loyal following within Kansas City’s educational community.


comprised of some of the most influential authors and illustrators in the country  

Brian Selznick

Caldecott Medal winner and creator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, adapted into Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning Hugo; Wonderstruck, also adapted into a film by Todd Haynes; and The Marvels. Selznick also illustrated The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins, a Caldecott Honor book.

Shane Evans

Illustrator of more than thirty picture books for children, including Chocolate Me! with Taye Diggs and The Way a Door Closes by Hope Anita Smith, a John Steptoe Award winner. He is the author and illustrator of Olu's Dream and Underground, a Coretta Scott King award winner.

Kate DiCamillo

Newbery Medal winning author of Flora & Ulysses  and The Tale of Despereaux and the recipient of a Newbery Honor for Because of Winn-Dixie. She also served as our third National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature 2014/2015. 

Linda Sue Park

Writer of both novels and picture books for young readers, including A Single Shard, the Newbery Medal winner, and the New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water. Her most recent titles are the Wing & Claw series, and Yaks Yak. She serves on the Board of Advisors for SCBWI and We Need Diverse Books. 

Daniel Handler

Writing as Lemony Snicket, he is responsible for numerous books for children, including A Series of Unfortunate Events which has been adapted into a film and a Netflix series. His first play, Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit, was produced last fall at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. He is the winner of the gold medal.

Lisa Campbell Ernst

Celebrated Kansas City writer and illustrator of countless picture books, including The Turn-Around, Upside-Down Alphabet Book; Sylvia Jean Drama Queen; Goldilocks Returns;  and Stella Louella's Runaway Book. Her art is featured in the Children's Room at the Downtown Central Branch.


Dr. Michelle Martin

 Beverly Cleary Endowed Professor for Children and Youth Services in the Information School at the University of Washington. She is a renowned author, essayist, lecturer, book critic, and champion of diversity in children’s literature. Author of Brown Gold: Milestones of African-American Children’s Picture Books, 1845-2002.


Leonard Marcus

Author of more than 20 biographies, histories, interview collections, and inside looks at the making of children’s literature’s enduring classics. He is one of the world’s preeminent authorities on children’s books. He teaches at New York University and the School of Visual Arts.


Kansas City civic leaders and activists
(+ Jon Scieszka)


Marny Sherman

Board member, KC Symphony, Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired, Cristo Rey

Jon Scieszka

The country’s first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and author of The Stinky Cheese Man.

Peter Sloan

Principal, HOK Architecture; Former President, AIA Kansas City

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Diane Power

Community Activist/Volunteer

Director, Ronald McDonald House (1986-2001)

Sonja Shaffer

Co-founder, Kids to the Rescue; Director of Programs and Operations at University Academy

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Billie Howard Barnes

Educator, The Pembroke Hill School; Board member, The Kansas City Public Library

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Christine Fielder

Board Member The McDonnell Foundation

Community Activist/Volunteer

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Larry Taft

Executive Vice President, Director of Retail Operations- Citizens Bank and Trust

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Ethan Whitehill

Chief Marketing Officer and member of the Executive Committee at MERGE; Founder/CEO of Two West 


planning, designing, fundraising, & support

Pete Cowdin


Debbie Pettid


To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

Leigh Rosser 

fabrication & design

Pat Franke



Kathy Jenkins Hart 
grants and development 


Joey Fleming

digital design and fabrication coordinator


Charlie Mylie
illustration & design

Jordan Strickland Morris
creative director


Donald "Scribe" Ross

sculpture team leader

Raphael Morales-Silva
general fabricator

Jordan Dean
sculpture team leader

Travis Smorstad

lead carpenter


Johanna Gee

soft goods coordinator

Mary Clara Hutchison
office manager



Lindsey Foat
content and communications director