Good Reading : December / January 2007
DECEMBER 2006/JANUARY 2007 ı goodreading 23 categorical them in Ecuador on a line that may con- tain hundreds of dextrous workers. Despite the cost, pop-ups are booming: several hundred moveable books are now being produced each year in the English language alone. They range greatly in quality, from those with mediocre illustrations and mechanics as mere gimmicks to books with great power to rprise and elight. Many re created or the very young, and t seems to me that lift- the-flaps and step- cut books (in which a half-page changes the image) appeal to that stage in toddlers’ development where out of sight is truly out of mind. Just consider a two-year-old repeatedly squealing with surprise at Spot the Dog books or The Very Hungry Caterpillar: you can almost see the young brain wiring itself up. Eric Hill and Eric Carle, authors of the afore- mentioned books, use very simple pic- tures and text along with the simplest of mechanisms in a winning combination. Elaborate devices such as tabs and pop- ups are beyond the abilities of tiny chil- dren to operate and can’t withstand the frequent atten- tions of toddlers, as several of my books bear witness. Robert Crowther creates moveable books for he next age bracket, with particular appeal to boys. His forthcoming book, Trains, makes full use of the potential of this genre to convey movement. It’s fitting that topics such as machines and inven- tions should be given the mechanical treatment in paper; perhaps moveable books help bridge the gap between the abstract realm of words and the con- crete world of things. The number of flap and pop-up books avail- able covering the alphabet, numbers and other basic topics indicates that publishers are still aware of the genre’s educational value. Didactic books may have reached their apogee in the successful series of move- able books by Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels that includes Perfect Pop-up Punctuation, Terrific Times Tables and Great Paper engineering basics High retail prices place most moveable books firmly in the gift category. So, for the nimble-fingered, an alternative is to make your own. The basic unit of a pop-up book is a folded spread. Made independently, these can be used as greeting cards, or you can take the next step and glue a series of folded spreads together to form a booklet. Bind them and — voila! — you have a book. Here are a few mechanisms you could employ: 1. The flap: a hinged piece of paper is glued onto the base sheet so it can be raised to reveal an illustration. 2. Accordion pages: pages unfold to extend the illustration. 3. The wheel: an illustrated paper disc is attached to the base sheet with a paper fastener or an axle cut from paper, allowing it to revolve. 4. Tabs: levers of folded paper, sometimes with a paper axle, that move parts of the illustration. 5. Incised pop-ups: slits and folds that allow the design to stand away from the base sheet when the spread is opened to 90º. 6. Multi-piece pop-ups: formed by gluing extra pieces to a base sheet at angles that allow the shape to stand upright when the spread is opened to 180º. The best way to learn how all these mechanisms work is by peering between the pages of an existing pop-up book. When designing your project, make rough spreads with scrap paper so that you can ‘nest’ the elements properly; this allows you to check the folds, angles and actions, and to adjust parts easily. For the real thing, you’ll need stiff paper or thin card strong enough to support itself and cope with lots of handling. Start by making the bookworm card overleaf! If the process intrigues you, there are plenty of books to give you guidance and ideas. You might start with something aimed at children, such as The Usborne Book of Pop-ups by R Gibson and L Somerville, or How to Make Pop-ups by Joan Irvine. Paper Pop-ups by Paul Jackson is written for an older audi- ence, but still has plenty of step-by-step pictures to follow. For the hard-core enthusiast there is the textbook-like Pop Up! A Manual of Paper Mechanisms by Duncan Birmingham. The more artistically inclined might enjoy Paper Magic by Masahiro Chatani, whose all- white creations include architectural masterpieces. And yes, there is indeed a pop-up book on pop-up books: The Elements of Pop-Up by David Carter and James Diaz welcomes you with a monster that leaps from the opening page.