Pop-up Books

Our household’s fas­ci­na­tion with pop-up books came as a sur­prise to me. As a child I didn’t like them much. We had a few — one was Sleep­ing Beau­ty, I think. But they popped with bor­ing mod­esty and they always had these tabs that you pulled to make things move, only my broth­er pulled them too hard and so they didn’t do any­thing besides pull in and out. Dis­tinct­ly disappointing.

But #1 Son received Robert Sabuda’s The Christ­mas Alpha­bet for his first Christ­mas. He was ten months old. We were still at the stage where I was singing cheer­ful­ly, “Books are for read­ing, not for eat­ing!” every time we sat down to read. He loved books…with all his sens­es. But when I opened The Christ­mas Alpha­bet he sat back on the couch in amaze­ment — his mouth opened in sur­prise, but not because he want­ed to eat the pop-ups. When he man­aged to tear his eyes away from the fan­tas­tic paper cre­ations that stood up on each page, he looked at me as if to say, “What have we been doing all this time with those tasty two-dimen­sion­al books?!”

I taught him how to use one gen­tle fin­ger to lift the flaps, open the doors, turn the pages….. I think this might’ve been instru­men­tal in him becom­ing such a gen­tle giant, actu­al­ly. (He’s 6’6”+ these days!) Our pop-ups remain in stel­lar condition.

Over the years we added to our col­lec­tion. More Robert Sabu­da, of course—Cook­ie Count, A Tasty Pop-up became our all-time favorite, I’d say — the gin­ger­bread house can be enjoyed from all sides! But we also pro­cured many of the clas­sics—Alice in Won­der­land, Wiz­ard of Oz, Peter Pan, Moth­er Goose Rhymes — and some gen­er­al learn­ing ones, too, like an atlas, some­thing about dinosaurs or drag­ons (I can’t remem­ber which, and I can’t find it — maybe #1 Son took it to col­lege?), and sev­er­al more hol­i­day books.

In short, we are fans. Dar­ling Daugh­ter once spent most of a spring break mak­ing pop-ups off of the plans on Sabuda’s web­site. Part engi­neer­ing, part origa­mi, part art, pop-ups are end­less­ly fas­ci­nat­ing. She’d prob­a­bly do it on her spring break next week if I left the tab open on the computer.

It’s hard to have pop-ups at the library, of course. There’s always the child who pulls too hard, turns the page too fast and refolds the folds or breaks the spine. If they weren’t so expen­sive I’d say we should just let them get trashed and replace them…but I get bud­gets. How­ev­er, it’d make a great spe­cial event at the library — an after­noon of mak­ing pop-ups, read­ing them, then shar­ing them with friends…. I’d sign up and go myself! Now that I’ve pulled all of ours out though…I might still be busy here!

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David LaRochelle
7 years ago

Anoth­er won­der­ful resource for cre­at­ing your own pop-up books is “The Ele­ments of Pop-Up” by David Carter and James Diaz. And my all time favorite pop-up it Paul Zelin­sky’s “Knick Knack Pad­dy Wack!” Ingenious!

Reply to  David LaRochelle
7 years ago

Knick Knack Pad­dy Wack is not a pop-up book, it is a pull-tab book. They are vast­ly different.