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Pop-Up Books

By Alida Allison

The contemporary pop-up book is an engineered work of art, treating readers of all ages to three-dimensional magic. Not all are suitable for unsupervised page-turning by the peanut-buttered fingers, which may explain why some publishers recommend readers be at least nine before delving into these delicately constructed books.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Ages: 9 - 12 Yrs.
By Robert Sabuda
Simon and Schuster, 2003

Here, Sabuda constructs key scenes from the original book, and inserts his trademark: little books on the sides of the pages that contain, within smaller pop-ups, much of the plot and more. Upon opening the first page, readers are immediately transplanted to the wonderland scene that opens Carroll’s book—Alice being read to by her sister under a tree. Sabuda retains the look of the original Tenniell illustrations, so Carroll fans will recognize the Duchess, delight to see Alice, grown to over 10 feet tall, protruding from the windows of the White Rabbit’s cottage, or playing croquet with the irascible Queen of Hearts. The Duchess’ baby boy turns into a pig, and, fittingly, the Cheshire Cat appears and disappears with the turning of a page. The sheer magic of engineering on the final pages—the collapse of the house of cards—elicits just the reaction Sabuda seeks: a gasp of pure aesthetic pleasure.

Pop-Up AesopPop-up Aesop
Ages: 9 - 12 Yrs.
By John Harris    Illustrated by Calef Brown
Getty Publications, $19.95

In the first part of his life, Aesop was a slave. The fables attributed to him are hard-nosed lessons in survival, and, aptly, the fables are themselves survivors; 2500 years later, we are still reading them.

In John Harris and Calef Brown’s contemporary-looking Aesop, each page in this five-fable collection is constructed like a game as the reader pulls the flaps to make the scenes move, ultimately revealing the moral of the story. Harris’ retellings of the fables use up-to-date language and Caleb Brown’s pop-up scenes are humorous and colorful.

Counting CreaturesCounting Creatures: Pop-up Animals from 1 to 100
Ages: 9 - 12 Yrs.
By Sophie and David Pelham
Simon and Schuster, $16.95

Collaborating with his daughter Sophie, David Pelham follows his earlier ABC pop-up A Is for Animals with this counting book full of bright color and extraordinary design. Each page has four peek-a-boo flaps. When the flaps are opened and the pop-ups—well—pop-up, creatures seem to fly, jump, or crawl, to move their eyes or snap their jaws. The twenty-eight delicious pop-ups offer counting lessons within each picture.

One Red Dot: A Pop-Up Book for Children of All Ages
Ages: 9 - 12 Yrs.
By David Carter
Simon and Schuster, $19.95

Each page is a paper sculpture that moves, treating the reader to an inventive journey in counting, as it challengers observers to find the one red dot. “Three Burning Baskets,” is a stunning prelude to the sounds of “Six Fluttering Flicker Clickers” and the marvel of physics in “Eight Obedient Orbs”!

Encyclopedia PrehistoricaEncyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs
Ages: 5 & Up
Author: Robert Sabuda    Illustrator: Matthew Reinhart Publisher:
Candlewick Press, $26.99

From the huge yet intricate Tyrannosaurus skeleton that begins this voyage through paleontology to the Archaeopteryx that flies off its pages, each is a mechanical marvel. And that's still only part of the content. Attached to each two-page scene are as many as four mini books where facts are generously provided. In this non-fiction combination of art and science, Sabuda and Reinhart enchant readers with the presentation of scientific anecdotes, and how paleontologists' thinking, along with their tools, have changed over time. Sabuda and Reinhart's collaboration demonstrates the height of contemporary pop-up book art.

Cinderella: A Pop-Up Fairy Tale
Ages: 9 - 12 Yrs.
By Matthew Reinhart
Simon and Schuster, $24.95

In the style of Robert Sabuda, to whom Reinhart writes his dedication, this book combines eye-boggling three dimensional art with a good deal of text, tucked like little books-within-books on each page which, when opened, reveal additional pop-ups. The pages sparkle and surprise with their intricate nooks and crannies; there’s even real ribbon in Cinderella’s gown. The cut-outs are so advanced in construction that they morph; for example, when the rat turns into the coachman, the change is so smooth it’s hardly noticeable. Pop-up books is allow readers to “play” at their own pace - opening and closing the pages over and over, discovering different things at different angles, seeing how each scene is constructed.

Reinhart retells the story well, too. Cinderella is resourceful and confident.

Puppy TroublePuppy Trouble
Ages: 9 - 12 Yrs.
By Alexandra Day
Farrar Straus Giroux, $16.95

This is the kind of pop-up book that relies on illustration and painted backgrounds to move the story along. Day’s protagonist, a mischievous puppy is pure pandemonium as he pulls a lamp off a table, causes toilet paper chaos, hassles the cat. On the final pages the dog’s boy turns up, ending the book on a warm and peaceful note.

The Princess and the Pea
Ages: 9 - 12 Yrs.
Adapted by Sarah Aronson    Art by Chris Demarest
Little Simon, $14.95

Although not as intricately constructed as others in this list, Aronson’s adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale offers lively, cartoon-like scenes in watercolor and ink, with pop-ups, pull-tabs and peek-a-boo flaps. With the text kept to a bare minimum, adults may need to expand the story for young audiences. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, is it?


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