Brottman Gives a ‘Peep’ About Kids
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Brottman Gives a ‘Peep’ About Kids

Children’s book author Joe Brottman wrote a wordless book for kids around the globe to learn about acceptance.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

Children’s book author and branding executive, Joe Brottman, 28, wants to make discussions about color and diversity easier.
Children’s book author and branding executive, Joe Brottman, 28, wants to make discussions about color and diversity easier.

Children’s book author Joe Brottman was flown to Hanoi by the National Vietnamese Bank to discuss making a version of his children’s book, “Peep,” in their language.

Actually, traveling and composing around the world was one of the impetuses that inspired Brottman to write, or “illustrate” the book because it literally has no words.

Born and raised in Chicago, Brottman headed for Italy to study fine art in Florence. There, he discovered, “While I was creating picture books for Italian elementary schools, I realized the power of wordless storytelling. Just like that, ‘Peep’ was born. I continued my studies in Italy studying illustration, design, and sculpture before returning to Northeastern University, in Boston. Within a few months, off I went to the west coast of Ireland and illustrated what would become ‘Peep.’”

“Peep” is about this purple little bird and his friends.

Brottman illustrated “Peep” in watercolor and ink. The story is about a little bird and his journey through Ireland. He makes friends with a cute cow and pig duo, but when a weird mishap switches his new friends’ colors, the three are faced with understanding what it means to be different and learn what really matters.

Brottman related this to unfortunate divisions in our complex world. He noted, “In Ireland where humanity is so divided, I saw “Peep” as an opportunity to unite the children of the world by understanding how to communicate through art. The interpretations are endless, based on background, which creates discussions about cultural understandings and the world that children’s books don’t typically have. I wanted something that could be enjoyed by kids everywhere – not limited to one language.” Thus, no words.

Per Brottman, teaching color and diversity are not the easiest of topics. “Peep” is an educational resource that helps make hard conversations a little easier. The narrative explains why “you shouldn’t try to change who you are or what you look like and embrace everyone for who they are – no matter their color.”

Parents can determine how deeply to delve into “Peep’s” wordless content – as age appropriate.

Since it doesn’t have any words, a parent can choose the depth of the message to delve into with their child. Brottman continued, “It’s a tool to talk about equality that grows with your child. [The] older they get, the deeper you can discuss it and the more you can choose to take away from it. It was designed to facilitate conversation.”

From his Jewish perspective, he said, “Experiencing antisemitism always made me wonder…who taught someone to think this way? How can anyone hate anyone for their color, race, religion, sex, etc. I think everything stems back to education – so this book is my attempt to give kids, regardless of the views of their culture or family, a chance to rally around the same lesson of equality. A chance to create a world where less kids have to experience prejudice – whether that is Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, Black, white, or anything else.”

Brottman’s favorite page is the last. The story doesn’t say what color the animals end up – because it doesn’t matter. Every time he reads the story to a child and ends it on that page, they look up at him, and he observes them thinking about what could have happened…wondering what comes next. He loves that moment because “sometimes the best answers are the ones we don’t have.”

Joe Brottman addresses school children to engage in “Peep’s” messages of inclusion.

After a career as an illustrator for Wayfair, Brottman, now 28, moved to Atlanta to develop and execute his branding and design business.

To get a copy of “Peep,” visit There are three options, including a hardcover book starting at $19.99, a hardcover with a plush peep doll, or a bundle option.

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