We are HUGE fans of pop-up books in the Babbleabout household. Pop-ups, if executed well, bring a truly magical setting to a story, they add drama, explain what’s happening and highlight key events. All of this makes a classic story accessible to a younger audience.
Fairytales especially lend themselves to the pop-up treatment. We have pop-up versions of Cinderella, Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland and each one has created a really magical and enchanting setting in which the stories unfold.
As an adult, I still marvel at the creativity and beauty of some of these feats of paper engineering. And I love them because they offer an antidote to the digital world of computer games.
Actually, pop-ups aren’t just for kids…..but that’s for a later piece. Anyway, here are our favourite children’s pop-ups.
The Chronicles of Narnia, based on the books by C.S. Lewis, pop-ups by Robert Sabuda Robert Sabuda is currently one of the best known paper engineers and works out of his studio in New York with Matthew Reinhart who also is a children’s book creator and paper engineer (see below). In The Chronicles of Narnia, there is one amazing pop-up for each of the stories – The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair and The Last Battle. When you handle the book, you instantly know you are in for a treat – it’s hard-back cover and the thickness of it’s contents. Each page leaps right out at you, literally. The pop-up of Aslan (pictured) is quite simply spectacular and completely captivated my eldest daughter when she first clapped eyes on it. A book to really treasure. Age 5+
Cinderella, A Pop-Up Fairy Tale by Matthew Reinhart Matthew Reinhart’s resplendent retelling of Cinderella comes to life with intricate pop-ups, foil, ribbons, acetate and amazing three-dimensional surprises. The stunning transformation of a pumpkin into a magnificent coach can be seen in the main picture (above) of this piece. This book shares the same sturdy cover and thickness of contents of Sabuda’s book so, once again, you know you are in for something really special. A really magical retelling of a classic fairytale. Age 5+
Beware of the Storybook Wolves by Lauren Child, paper engineering by Corina Fletcher Lauren Child’s colourful and unique illustrations work perfectly with a children’s pop-up book and Corina Fletcher has certainly done them justice. The opening page with Herb sitting up in bed at the end of his bedtime story captures that time just before ‘lights out’ wonderfully. “In her hurry, Herb’s mother forgot to take the book with her” and Herb is right to be scared because just as he is dozing off, he realises he is not alone. The wolves from his bedtime storybook feature throughout the book in scary 3D alongwith a sleeping princess, a wicked fairy, the Fairy Godmother, Prince Charming and a tiny caterpillar. Perhaps not a book for bedtime but definitely one to be enjoyed with the lights on. Age 5+
The Wonderful World Book by Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings “The whole world is in your hands” and it really is when you open the first page and up pops a huge 3D planet Earth as it demonstrates it’s place in space. This book is full of pop-ups and lift-me-up flaps, great for little hands to explore the geography of the world and feel their way around continents, oceans, rivers and mountains, countries and natural disasters. A very visual way of explaining and demonstrating what happens in our wonderful world. Age 5+
Peter Pan – A Classic Story Pop-Up Book with Sounds by J.M. Barrie and Paul Hess, Retold by Libby Hamilton This beautiful pop-up book comes with the additional component of music and sounds and this really adds to the atmosphere created by the 3D effects. In the first scene, Big Ben emerges skyward out of the London mist with Peter Pan, Wendy, John and Michael flying past on their way to Neverland. And so the familiar adventure continues, visiting the Lost Boys hideout under the trees, the mermaids at the lagoon (listen out for Captain Hook’s evil laugh), onto the Jolly Roger where Captain Hook is defeated and Peter Pan turns the ship for home. Age 4+
How to Find Flower Fairies, published by the Penguin Group Perfect for girls who love fairies. The cover, text and images have all been given an old fashioned feel because it has been made to look like it has been researched and put together by Cicely Mary Barker, the original creator of the Flower Fairies. The details and little touches are delightful, including the addition of a mock photographic album from the 1930s showing Cicely’s photographs of fairies in her garden and with her friends and family. There is advice on where to look for fairies with pop-ups of tree tops, the forest floor, garden flowers, by the wayside and the marsh. Look carefully and you will find tiny little fairies hidden in all these beautiful, minature worlds. Age 5+
The Nutcracker – A Magical Pop-Up Adventure by Nick Denchfield and Sue Scullard I love the story of the Nutracker. Open this book and you enter Clara’s world – the huge Christmas tree in the Stahlbaums’ house, lit up, and surrounded by presents; the mice and the Mouse King in full battle with Fritz’s toy soldiers; the journey through The Land of Snow to the Land of Sweets, both of which are breathtaking. There is even a ballerina under a sweet-covered arch that can be spun round and made to dance. Age 5+
Danger Island – A Perilous Pop-Up World by Nick Denchfield and Graham Howells Is it a book, is it a game? Actually both. And also great for boys this time. It goes like this – “Your plane has crashed on a remote island. You’re lost and alone… But don’t despair! You’ll find everything you need to help you in these pages. Read the story, follow the instructions and … good luck!” Luckily you are given a survival pack which has everything you need to complete six missions – help the dinosaur find her missing egg; make a catapult for the tree creatures; rig up a zip-line for the trolls; construct a raft for the aliens; search for the explorer’s poisonous beasties; find the pirates’ treasure. Finally (phew!) you make your getaway vehicle and … escape! All combined with an amazing, multi-dimensional paper sculpture of an island in the centre pages. Age 7/8+
A Three-Dimensional Victorian Dolls House, designed by Willabel L Tong, illustrated by Phil Wilson, paper engineering by Renee Jablow This beautifully illustrated dolls house carousel has two storeys and eight rooms and will surely delight all lovers of miniature. Open up, tie back the ribbons and the contents reveal exquisite decorative details and pop-up furniture including a chandelier, a baby grand piano and even an opening and closing loo lid. An accompanying sheet contains press-out dolls and play accessories. This will delight my six-year old daughter. I can’t wait to see her face on Christmas Day, shhh! Age 5/6+