Finfare for the Common Tot
By Eden Marriott Kennedy
You should have heard my son, Jackson, when he first got his hands on this pop-up book. He opened the first page and shouted, “WOW!” He turned the next page and became thoroughly entranced. “WOW,” he said. I left him in silence at the dining room table to go unload the dishwasher and all I heard in the kitchen was, “WOW.” Pause. “WOW.” Pause. “WOW.”
A week later and it’s still the first thing he shows to whoever walks through the door. Every page of Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart’s Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters is a show-stopper. You’d think one complex and gorgeous pop-up of a prehistoric crocodile leaping out of the water and snapping the tail off of an iguanadon (with accompanying text) would be enough for one page, but no. On opposite corners are two smaller, four-page pop-up mini-books describing two more ancient water creatures. Every page features one expertly crafted central pop-up creature and then two, three, or four smaller pop-up pages to open in each corner. It’s like twenty-two books in one.
Yet the bookstore clerk who lives inside my head just about had a kitten. How would this well-built yet delicate book survive repeated readings by a sometimes slaphappy little kid?
The publishers recommend this book to readers age five and up and I’d say that’s just about right. Jackson, who is almost five, didn’t take long to realize he needed to be careful with this special book. He is quite able to get almost every creature folded properly back on its page and so was everyone in his preschool class when he proudly brought the book in for show-and-tell.
Bonus for me is that the text is complex enough to put him right to sleep at bedtime.
(I stayed awake and actually learned something. Did you know that the megalodon was an ancient, fifty foot long, fifty-ton shark with a mouth wide enough to swallow a hippopotamus whole? Well, it’s true, and whoa! You should see the pop-up teeth on that pop-up shark.)
Sabuda is often called “The Prince of Pop-ups,” a small and refined area of publishing sometimes known as “movable books.” Among other projects, he’s done a well-received adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland as well as an extraordinary series of all-white pop-up books. He and his partner, Matthew Reinhart (an inspired paper engineer in his own right and former model maker for Blue’s Clues), also did last year’s hit Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs.
Jackson’s review: “This book is really, really, really cool.”
Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters hits stores today, April 11.
You can go here to purchase it.
Mrs. Kennedy believes that writing well is the best revenge. Snap! Visit her personal weblog www.fussy.org for some of that attitude.