Retired teacher spreads happiness with book nooks based on ‘iconic’ film scenes

A retired elementary school teacher has recreated “iconic” movie scenes in the form of book nooks to “(give) back some memories” to fellow miniature enthusiasts.

Janet Edgecomb Roller said she has been interested in miniatures for around 40 years, but began making movie scene book nooks – tiny rooms which you position between your books – when she retired in 2020.

The library scene in Ghostbusters, the kitchen in Coraline, the first moment readers enter Narnia and The Shining scene with the twins in the corridor are just some of the film moments turned miniature by the 65-year-old.

Two boxes next to each other
The Shining book nook without and with a light on the twins (Janet Edgecomb Roller/PA)

“I started seeing all these book nooks on Facebook everywhere and thought, ‘I can make those’,” Mrs Roller, who lives in Waco, Texas, told the PA news agency.

“The first one I did was a Harry Potter one because my daughter was into Harry Potter – it was based on a PDF file that had all the sides and the walls and I just Xeroxed it on to card stock and then glued it into my foam core board.

“And after that, the idea of things I wanted to make never seemed to end.”

She said she decides what to make based on commissions, her own interests – which include “spooky” scenes – and what is popular, with her “best tool” being puffy paint, which she uses for anything from bricks to tree bark to stonework.

Wooden cabin
Cabin in the Woods book nook (Janet Edgecomb Roller/PA)

The book nooks take around two to three days to create, with the first day usually involving cutting out boards and all other elements and doing all the Xeroxing, with the next days usually incorporating adding in backlighting or dealing with “fails”.

So far, Mrs Roller has made 16 book nooks, which are roughly 9in tall, with some including special effects, made possible by fairy lights, as seen in her recreations of popular scenes from Ghostbusters and The Shining.

“I get a bunch of them off of Amazon – they’re cheap,” she said.

“With those, I just do a backlight behind the image I want to illuminate and they show up.

Books and ghost in a box
Ghostbusters book nook without and with a light on the figure (Janet Edgecomb Roller/PA)

“For the Ghostbusters one, I have an image of the librarian and the scary one is at the back and when the lights go on, you can see the scary one.

“It’s very simple, but getting them aligned in the right place is not always the easiest thing.”

Mrs Roller said the Cabin In The Woods book nook was one of her favourites, as well as one inspired by the Island of the Dolls in Mexico, which was the subject of a 2018 movie.

“It’s such a creepy place to begin with, I will never go there,” she said.

“I would like to say it’s on my bucket list, but it’s really not.”

House and dolls surrounding it
Island of the Dolls book nook (Janet Edgecomb Roller/PA)

Her daughter – Lauren, 34 – has also served as somewhat of a muse, with Labyrinth and Hocus Pocus book nooks being made because of her interest in the films.

Mrs Roller’s Coraline book nook was commissioned by a man as a gift for his daughter on her birthday.

“He found me somehow on Facebook and he was local and I watched the movie and did a sketch first to see which scene I was going to do from it,” she said.

“I thought the kitchen scene seemed to be pretty iconic – there was a first rundown kitchen and then this bright, cheery kitchen, so I tried to incorporate as much of that as I could.”

Sketch with chairs and a person
Coraline sketch (Janet Edgecomb Roller/PA)
Coraline book nook (Janet Edgecomb Roller/PA)
Items in box
Coraline book nook from above (Janet Edgecomb Roller/PA)

Mrs Roller said the hardest part was making the figures of Coraline and her mother, which was new for her, which she made out of clay.

“I then used my Xerox, printed the (faces) and glued them on top of the clay bodies I made,” she added.

The scenes make use of items that are either lying around Mrs Roller’s house or have been bought cheaply online or in shops, which she said helps to transform “trash into treasure”.

“The book nooks really make people happy, it gives back some memories and I want to show that they are something that almost anybody can do,” Mrs Roller said.

“Some include some of the trash I have like bottle tops and sometimes I even use real little rocks.”

As for the next project, the 1947 movie The Ghost And Mrs Muir seems to be next on the cards for Mrs Roller.