MiChelle Jones

Together or separately, Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart have popped everything: classic stories (Alice in WonderlandThe Jungle Book), Christmas scenes (The 12 Days of Christmas), bookmarks and ornaments, frightening phobias and creepy monsters (Mommy?). And, beginning with 2006's Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs, the pair began exploring the fascinating animals that stalked the earth millennia ago. The third and final part of their extremely popular Prehistorica trilogy, Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Mega-Beasts, will be published this month.

Speaking by phone—make that phones—from their New York studio, Sabuda and Reinhart clearly have this interview routine down pat, identifying themselves before each comment. "We were finding that a lot of teachers and educators, and even librarians, were using pop-up books in their classrooms or for reading time," Sabuda says. "We would go to book signings or to conferences, and educators would say: Oh, we really love pop-up books and it would be great if we could use them more in the classroom." 

Add to that the pair's love of prehistoric animals and Reinhart's degree in biology, and a pop-up book on dinosaurs couldn't have been a more perfect project. Each Prehistorica book begins with Reinhart diving into research, consulting books, museums and the Internet. 

Remembering his own childhood reading habits, Reinhart aims to make the words bring the animals to life. "I really try . . . to find interesting information, quantitative information how big the animal was, how long it was and all those sort of things but also, interesting, weird, gross facts, because that's fun, that draws the reader in." Reinhart uses wry humor, alliteration and other devices to ensure his text is both informative and entertaining. Of the brontothere, for example, readers are told: "Alas, these hulking horned herbivores may not have been the brightest beasts around, since their brains were only about the size of a man's fist." And in a marvelous juxtaposition of text and image, the woolly rhinoceros (coelodonta), described as shortsighted and dangerous, is shown tripping along, almost as though dancing, in a mini pop-up.

Mega-Beasts introduces a menagerie of towering, lumbering or flying animals, constructed from hand-painted paper in shades of purple, blue, gold and auburn. "We can use sponges for scales, or use combs and run it down the paint to make feathers," Sabuda says. "The opportunity to make different kinds of surfaces and textures, which is so important for this series, is much easier to come by using this technique." Mini pop-ups are used liberally in Mega-Beasts and function like sidebars or pull-down menus augmenting the main spreads. 

The team first incorporated the form in their 2000 adaptation of The Wizard of Oz and it is now a standard feature in their books. "If a reader is interested in just a big pop and wants an overview, that's great," Sabuda says, "but if they want to delve just a bit further, those little mini pops will allow them to get that information, too." 

Reinhart agrees, "It gives us the opportunity to showcase more creatures and show animals that aren't necessarily the big stars like a saber-tooth tiger or a woolly mammoth." So while you're on the spread with the beautifully rendered, though nevertheless menacing, quetzalcoatlus (there's a helpful pronunciation key after every name), check out the flying fossils flap for a view of an absolutely disgusting (that's meant as a compliment) meganeura dragonfly, its wings delicately formed in clear plastic. After reading text under the airborne saber-toothed feline, peek under the flap on the right-hand page to see a powerful mastodon losing the struggle to escape a tar pit. "Oh, yes," Reinhart and Sabuda respond in unison at the mention of that last pop-up. "We visited La Brea Tar Pits and that [scene was] inspired exactly by that imperial mammoth sinking into the sculpture there," explains Reinhart.

Getting back to the woolly mammoth, as the page is turned on that magnificent spread, the animal moves toward the reader, trunk unfolding, tusks getting closer (this pop-up is also effective when seen in one's peripheral vision). Other impressive large pop-ups include the intricate skeleton of the brutal killing machine cynognathus and the very tall (as in 20 feet) indricotherium, moving at what appears to be a fast clip across a vibrant depiction of a prehistoric landscape.

"I think our books are kind of the high-tech version of regular books," Reinhart says, "they're very complex. The mechanisms we use are a little bit beyond what has been used in the past . . . we use a lot of new paper technology." 

Given that, what other elements would Sabuda and Reinhart like to incorporate into their books? "Sound for one thing. I have a big book that I'm killing myself to finish right now," Reinhart says, laughing, before describing his forthcoming Star Wars encyclopedia, a celebration of the 30-year anniversary of the first Star Wars film. He describes himself as a huge fan not like normal people, beyond and says he wanted to incorporate breathing sounds into a spread showing 360-degree views of Darth Vader's helmet. "It's hard-core, but it's really cool," he says, adding that limited editions of the book might include sound.

As for Sabuda, he'd like to do something for the youngest pop-up fans. "It would be great to be able to create a series of pop-up books with un-tearable pop-ups," he says. "We would have to develop some kind of paper that was impregnated with Tyvek or plastic or something so it would be much sturdier, and it wouldn't break off, because pop-up books really get loved to tears." 

In the meantime, the two are planning their next series, Encyclopedia Mythologica, about myths and legends. While both Reinhart and Sabuda also have their individual projects, Sabuda says exhaustive series like Prehistorica and Mythologica are best handled as team efforts. "That type of work would take a good two years, two-and-a-half years to do alone, so there's no way one of us all by ourselves could get that done." 

As for divvying up the other ideas, Sabuda says they choose projects that appeal to their personal interests, like Matthew working on Star Wars [Reinhart interjects: "I wouldn't let him touch it." Sabuda responds: "Right."] and the whole series of white Christmas titles.

"People always ask where we get our ideas," Sabuda continues. "There's a never-ending chain of ideas that go on towards infinity, it seems like, which is good. "

Together or separately, Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart have popped everything: classic stories (Alice in WonderlandThe Jungle Book), Christmas scenes (The 12 Days of Christmas), bookmarks and ornaments, frightening phobias and creepy monsters (Mommy?). And, beginning with 2006's Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs, the pair began exploring the fascinating animals that stalked the earth millennia ago. The third and final part of their extremely popular Prehistorica trilogy, Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Mega-Beasts, will be published this month.

There’s nothing like seeing Buzz Aldrin’s name on one’s caller ID. His office is calling from California for part two of our interview to discuss his second memoir, Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon. He sounds more relaxed this time around: there are no phones ringing in the background, no email alerts sounding on his computer and he’s not shouting out fax instructions to a staff member.

At 79, the former Apollo 11 astronaut and the second man to walk on the moon is incredibly active, traveling the world promoting space exploration and his space lottery idea and also just enjoying himself. He’s been to the North Pole (on an expedition with ABC’s Hugh Downs for “20/20”) and is finalizing a South Pole excursion. A longtime avid diver—he’s the guy who developed many of NASA’s underwater training procedures for the Apollo program—he shot B-roll shark footage for the 1981 Bond flick For Your Eyes Only, visited the Titanic wreckage with a British documentary team and still dives regularly.

Aldrin’s schedule remains almost as packed as the world tour he and crewmates Neil Armstrong and Mike Collins took—or, rather, were subjected to, in his opinion—after their July 1969 moon flight. Along with his annual visit to the Paris Air Show, he’ll also make a number of appearances in observation of Apollo 11’s 40th anniversary.

“I’m standing by for NASA endorsement of different events,” he says, his gravelly voice assuming a cadence indicative of his many years of military training. He says he’ll squeeze in some sort of book tour when he can. But what he really wants is a spot on Oprah’s show. “I would appreciate that invitation. . . . This is a book that’s about a human,” he pauses, then laughs, “drama.”

Magnificent Desolation is an account of Aldrin’s difficult years—decades, really—following the moon landing. He discusses alcoholism (no, he wasn’t drunk when he punched that Apollo hoax theorist), infidelity, divorce, financial troubles, a frequently strained relationship with his father, depression and a stalled career, among other things.  He’s right, this is definitely Oprah territory. As hard as it has been for Aldrin (and many of his fellow Apollo astronauts) to talk about their experiences in space—more on that later—you’d think he would have found it nearly impossible to open up about personal matters, or that it was perhaps difficult to revisit some of the most trying periods of his life.

“No, I don’t think so,” Aldrin says. “The stories, the photographs, the activities have been related in progressive interviews over 30 years now. It’s just a question of deciding: what is the output going to be? Are we looking for a dramatic movie to reach large numbers of people, or are we going to try to put more detail, more things down in writing because there probably won’t be another real chance to do that.”

He spent less than a year working with co-writer Ken Abraham and also bringing in other people for interviews. “It was quite satisfying to renew some of those acquaintances,” he says. There were astronauts, family members and Aldrin’s children. “[to get their] perspective now on their adolescent observations, and teen-aged and subsequent witnessing of the progressions in my life,” Aldrin says somewhat ruefully.

Magnificent Desolation starts on a high note, though: July 16, 1969, the morning of the Apollo 11 launch. It makes for a great opener. “It always has,” Aldrin laughs. He takes readers through that morning and does a marvelous job of putting the technology of the day in perspective for those used to 21st-century devices: “Many modern mobile phones have more computing power than we did. But those computers enabled us to measure our velocity changes to a hundredth of a foot per second, determine rendezvous and course corrections, and guide our descent . . . to the moon. You couldn’t do that with a slide rule.”

Aldrin spends the first three chapters in space, describing what he saw and how he felt about it. He describes the astronauts’ relief at having landed successfully, the deafening silence once the Lunar Module’s engines shut down, planting the American flag (“I still think it’s the best-looking flag up there out of all six”), and just wanting to sleep on the return flight to Earth. He writes about the mission’s iconic images, including the ones he shot of his footprint: “Framed in the photo was the evidence of man on the moon—a single footprint. . . . That’s kind of lonely looking, I thought. So I’d better put my boot down, and then move my boot away from the print, but only slightly so it’s still in the frame. . . .”

That’s a lot more than he’s willing to say over the phone. The question, the one every interviewer has to ask, is met by a pause just this side of uncomfortable. “Well, I know it would be nice to pinpoint, but there was a continuity associated with kind of moving beyond each achievement successfully and the culmination is being in the Pacific Ocean,” he concludes with a laugh.

OK, but is there one thing in particular, one tiny detail about being on the moon that stands out even after all this time? “We were sightseeing, looking back and seeing the gradually diminishing size of the back side of the moon, and I think most everyone who’s seen it would say the crater named after the Russian pioneer Tsiolkovsky is probably the most unique feature that stands out. You gotta take our word for it,” he says, his voice becoming slightly mischievous, “because only 24 people have seen it, plus the cameras.”

Though he gets why people feel compelled to tell him where they were on the night of July, 20, 1969, he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life reliving those seven hours on the moon. Instead, he’s interested in promoting continued space exploration and developing new rocket technology (he holds a couple of patents for rocket design).

“I’m known as an astronaut, and I am still thrilled with that designation,” he writes in Magnificent Desolation. “But I don’t want to live in the past; as long as I am here on Earth, I want to be contributing to the present, and I want to stride confidently into the future.”
 

There’s nothing like seeing Buzz Aldrin’s name on one’s caller ID. His office is calling from California for part two of our interview to discuss his second memoir, Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon. He sounds more relaxed this time around: there are no phones ringing in the background, no email alerts […]

Some of the authors and illustrators of the books timed to mark the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing are longtime space fans. They faithfully monitored the Apollo 11 mission and documented the adventures of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins in treasured scrapbooks. Now, a new generation will be inspired to follow dreams of traveling back to the moon or even to Mars, or perhaps designing the equipment and procedures for those missions.
Mission, possible

It was a close race, but Jerry Stone’s One Small Step: Celebrating the First Men on the Moon wins honors for best cover. A round hologram shows an astronaut climbing down a ladder, stepping on the moon, moving closer and finally standing front-and-center holding a flag. The rest of the book, presented as an Apollo program scrapbook kept by the grandson of a Mission Control employee (and son of a present-day NASA scientist), is equally fascinating. Scores of photographs—of things like the Apollo 11 crew eating breakfast, a Saturn V rocket under construction—some of which lift to reveal more information—fill the book and wonderful two-page spreads document the in-space experience, the crew’s return to Earth, etc. Other nice touches include a mission diagram of orbits, docking and undocking maneuvers; minibooks of countdown checklists and mission menus; removable facsimiles of VIP and press passes for the Apollo 11 launch; and a hologram showing the rocket lifting off the pad.

There are lots of similarities between One Small Step and Alan Dyer’s Mission to the Moon, including a show-stopping cover—this one features an embossed image of an Apollo 11 astronaut on the lunar surface. A mix of images and short blocks of text (much more inviting and accessible than long passages) cover the men, machines and other aspects of the Apollo program in well-designed spreads. Factor in the enclosed double-sided poster and truly spectacular DVD of authentic NASA footage, and this book is sure to please children and adults.

Junior version
Andrew Chaikin was a space-obsessed 12-year-old the first time he met Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean, and there’s a photo on the back flap of Mission Control, This Is Apollo: The Story of the First Voyages to the Moon to prove it. Chaikin, writing with wife Victoria Kohl, covers the same wide territory he so expertly presented in A Man on the Moon, here in a version for junior space fans. There are plenty of photographs of activities on the ground and in space, informative sidebars (waste management gets glorious treatment, as it does in many of the space books published this year) and colorful graphics to appeal to young minds.

In addition to original paintings of his colleagues and their missions, Bean contributes personal reminiscences about them, as well as details about the paintings themselves. For example, he stages the scenes with small models he makes himself, uses crushed soil to add texture and sometimes even grinds up small pieces of mission patches, flags and NASA emblems from his spacesuits into the paint. For budding artists or those otherwise intrigued by the paintings, consider Painting Apollo: First Artist on Another World (Smithsonian Books), which includes 107 of Bean’s paintings and is the companion volume to an exhibition at the National Air & Space Museum July 16 through January 2010.

Fly me to the moon
Buzz Aldrin flew on the Apollo mission just before Alan Bean’s. He teams up again with painter (and pilot) Wendell Minor for Look to the Stars, the follow-up to 2005’s Reaching for the Moon. It’s a quick trip through aviation history sprinkled with personal insights and recollections from Aldrin. He tells us, for example, that crewmate Armstrong took along a piece of fabric from the Wright Brothers’ plane to the moon. (He doesn’t mention that aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh was in the viewing stand for Apollo 11’s launch, seated next to Apollo 13’s Jim Lovell. But, hey, Aldrin was obviously too busy that day to notice.) The timeline at the end of the book is packed with information and looks like a cool 1950s mobile.

One Giant Leap takes its title from the famous words spoken by Armstrong when he became the first man to step on the moon. Written by Robert Burleigh, the book skips the launch and starts when the lunar lander separates from the command service module and heads off toward the moon. Mike Wimmer’s paintings capture the stark beauty of outer space—and his likenesses of the astronauts are astounding.

Brian Floca offers a completely different view of the Apollo 11 mission in Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11. Reading Chaikin’s A Man on the Moon inspired Floca to write (and, of course, illustrate) his own project. His paintings are bright and airy, perfect for suggesting the sensation of floating in space, but equally effective portraying Mission Control, liftoff and star-studded space vistas. Floca's images are paired with lyrical text that turns the technical achievement of the moon landing into a poetic—and thrilling—adventure. Author and/or illustrator of more than two dozen children's books, including the Sibert Honor-winning Lightship, Floca reaches new heights in Moonshot.

Cool, daddy, cool
If you’ve not yet seen the world via M. Sasek’s series of children’s travel books, here’s the perfect excuse to do so: This is the Way to the Moon is the latest of the series to be re-released. Originally published in 1963, the book is a colorful time capsule from the hip world of Cape Canaveral during the era of “Right Stuff” astronauts. Sasek’s simple, stylish drawings show off the clothes, cars and buildings of the day—including a beautiful rendering of a two-story hotel favored by the Mercury 7 astronauts, complete with pool, splashy sign and geometric wrought-iron railing. Sasek also wrote the accompanying text, which is tinged with the sarcasm of a late 1950s animated feature. Halfway through This is the Way to the Moon, he makes an easy transition into more technical drawings of rockets—really missiles at this point in the space program—and explanatory copy.

Tomi Ungerer’s Moon Man is another oldie but goodie re-released this year. Rockets don’t appear until nearly the end of this tale about the man in the moon catching a ride on a falling star to satisfy his curiosity about the fun-loving earthlings he spies each night. After causing a series of events familiar to fans of the 1951 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, the moon man visits a tinkerer-scientist and catches a ride back to his orb. Ungerer’s lush colorful illustrations add to the poignancy of the story.

Some of the authors and illustrators of the books timed to mark the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing are longtime space fans. They faithfully monitored the Apollo 11 mission and documented the adventures of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins in treasured scrapbooks. Now, a new generation will be inspired to follow […]

Eric Carle celebrates two milestones this year: his 80th birthday and the 40th anniversary of one of his beloved little creatures. To mark the occasion of the latter, he has translated the 1969 classic tale of a butterfly larva’s culinary and developmental adventures into 3-D. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pop-up Book retells the familiar story—complete with the trail of holes left by the caterpillar—in Carle’s signature lush hues.

The story starts on a moonlit night: the sky’s awash in turquoise, cobalt and teal; and a face emerges from the whites, grays and blues of the moon. Carle achieves these layered colors by creating collages of torn and cut hand-painted tissue paper; the resulting images elevate even the simplest pops to works of art.

In The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pop-up Book, all the fruit the caterpillar devours in his first week is shown (the pears and apple are rendered especially well; they look as though snatched from an old master’s still life). His Saturday binge is a smorgasbord of chocolate cake, Swiss cheese, ice cream, pickle, lollipop and more. Once the caterpillar returns to a more suitable diet—and after he recovers from his Saturday night stomachache—our little friend experiences a Nutcracker tree-like growth spurt before settling into his magnificent accordion-like cocoon. His metamorphosis is complete by the final double spread, when he appears as a Klimt- and Hundertwasser-esque masterpiece.

Carle was a graphic designer for the New York Times and got his start in books by illustrating Bill Martin Jr.’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? He then began creating his own colorful children’s books, drawing his inspiration from nature. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was his second and has remained a favorite of the youngest of readers for decades.

Eric Carle celebrates two milestones this year: his 80th birthday and the 40th anniversary of one of his beloved little creatures. To mark the occasion of the latter, he has translated the 1969 classic tale of a butterfly larva’s culinary and developmental adventures into 3-D. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pop-up Book retells the familiar story—complete […]

What's in your wardrobe?

Valentino: Themes and Variations begins with a series of photos documenting the couturier's final collection, from seamstresses hovered over a single garment to the finale of evening gowns in his signature poppy red. Next comes Valentino's exquisite creations shown on silver gray mannequins and interspersed with sketches and contemporary photos. Arranged thematically rather than chronologically, the pieces offer a sartorial snapshot of the decades: a 1972 pink gingham shantung maxi skirt, Julia Roberts' 1992 Oscar gown with cascading train of black tulle and white ribbons. The final chapter shows 40 years of magazine campaigns.

Long before Valentino presented his first collection in 1959 (before he was born, in fact), Edward Steichen was reinventing the fashion shoot. The portraits of models and celebrities in William A. Ewing and Todd Brandow's Edward Steichen: In High Fashion – The Cond

One of Steichen's breakthroughs was elevating the commercial to art, as he did with shoes in the 1920s. Caroline Cox's Vintage Shoes: Collecting and Wearing Twentieth-Century Designer Footwear suggests he had fabulous material to work with. Cox steps through the rest of the century, discussing major styles, influential designers and all sorts of trivia—from the origins of terms like "spectators" and "flappers" to the influence of the Charleston, tango and other dances on footwear. The many accompanying images are easier on the eyes than the small, sans serif typeface, so don't feel bad about skipping ahead to ogle the striking pumps and slings; ballet slippers and mules; Louis, Cuban and stiletto heels; go – go and kinky boots; platforms and wedges. Oh my.

Living like Ed

Anyone who's seen Ed Begley Jr.'s quirky reality show knows that living green isn't always pretty or comfortable—but it can be, according to Dreaming Green: Eco-Fabulous Homes Designed to Inspire. Along with gorgeous photo spreads of each dwelling, there's a list of its green features, which can include gray water systems, recycled and natural fabrics, lots of energy-efficient windows, even a pneumatic elevator. While the eco – friendly route was the logical choice for homeowners like Dwell's marketing director or an environmental lawyer wed to a biostatistician, others were inspired by health concerns or memories of the energy crisis of the late 1970s. The resulting homes range from the Manhattan brownstone of co-authors Lisa Sharkey and Paul Gleicher; a Venice Beach house in mirrored glass (featured on HGTV's "Extreme Living" this fall); and a Seattle house with regionally appropriate dining chairs made of metal recycled from a Boeing jet.

The focus in Domino: The Book of Decorating is more on achieving a comfortable, personalized style rather than an eco-friendly one. Packed with great photos, this delightful book devotes a chapter to every room in the house, including foyers and bathrooms—one of the best re-dos takes a loo from deal-breaker to simple, practical, beautiful—and kids' rooms. A charming drawing leads each chapter, followed by a description of the room's key item (sofa, table, bed); "steal this room" and mix-and-match suggestions, as well as ideas for small spaces. Finally a "Domino effect" spread charts the development of a feature room by showing the various elements—furniture, clipped magazine pages, swatch, memory of a store or room—that inspired the design. The book references websites and comes with a free subscription to the popular magazine.

What's in your wardrobe? Valentino: Themes and Variations begins with a series of photos documenting the couturier's final collection, from seamstresses hovered over a single garment to the finale of evening gowns in his signature poppy red. Next comes Valentino's exquisite creations shown on silver gray mannequins and interspersed with sketches and contemporary photos. Arranged […]

A special holiday gift from a picture-book master, Eric Carle's Dream Snow Pop-up Advent Calendar. In this scene from Carle's bright, colorful world, a tree stands in the snow with presents underneath and Santa nearby – and a field of windows hiding trinkets to be added to the tree. (Meanwhile, the calendar's cover, sleeve and dimensions will likely trigger a visceral reaction in those old enough to remember when music came on vinyl!)

From the heavens

Two chance encounters inspired Chuck Fischer's move away from the holiday themes of his two previous books: a 1960s children's Bible in New York, and a daytrip during a stint at the American Academy in Rome. Fischer's paintings are always gorgeous, but In the Beginning: The Art of Genesis, features especially outstanding works, inspired by and based on religious masterpieces (all of which are listed on a pullout at the end of the book). Working again with paper engineer Bruce Foster, Fischer includes a stunning mosaic – like spread recounting the saga of Adam and Eve, a monumental Tower of Babel and a Tiffany-esque depiction of Jacob's Ladder. Text by Curtis Flowers retells the stories and discusses symbolism in the images, making ample use of mini books and pullouts.

Cosmic: The Ultimate 3-D Guide to the Universe starts with a bang – a pop-up of the Big Bang, complete with sound. From there, it's off on a journey through planets, asteroids and other space – bound objects, including the Hubble Telescope and the Space Shuttle. As spectacular as paper engineer Richard Ferguson's pop – ups of the planets and the Apollo 15 lunar lander are – and they really are incredible – author Giles Sparrow's text makes it a great gift for space fans, whether they love pop – ups or not.

You might as well make it a twofer with Moon Landing, by Richard Platt and paper engineer David Hawcock. Published in advance of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the book is also loaded with history on space flight, referencing the people, politics and technology that put men on the Moon. The representations of the spacecraft – a command module and lunar module that dock (!), a super-long Saturn V, a Gemini capsule – are beyond cool. Lucky ones who receive both Moon Landing and Cosmic will end up with two pop-up lunar landers.

Children's tales

Big brother Charlie was able to convince the irascible Lola to try peas and other foods in I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato; now he faces another seemingly impossible task in Lauren Child's made-for-bedtime story Charlie and Lola's I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed Pop-up!. This year the pops are even better, with twirling pajama-clad dogs, Laura up a tree and milk-sipping tigers. Flaps, dials and oozing toothpaste will help wear out little tykes trying to resist sleep (maybe even Lola).

Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart released the first book in their new Encyclopedia Mythologica series, Fairies and Magical Creatures, this summer. In Brava Strega Nona!, the pop-up wizards interpret Tomie dePaola's Caldecott Honor – winning depiction of a magical grandma as only they can. Spreads of a sea of pasta, a courtyard full of celebrating villagers, and a meal served al fresco under an arbor bring the beloved tale to life.

Nonfiction pops

With Sabuda and Reinhart having left beasts behind, Lucio and Meera Santoro, the husband-and-wife team who soared to great heights in 2007's Journey to the Moon, take on Predators. They start with a gigantic spider, even more menacing rendered in the Santoros' trademarked swing pop-ups; pull out the informative mini-pops if you dare. Much pleasanter – even if the actual animals might be just as dangerous – are the bald eagle rising majestically from a navy-blue background, a scaly crocodile and snow – white (naturally) polar bears. Clever mini flaps advise on distinguishing between crocodiles and alligators (here's an idea: stay away from both); discuss how a species hunts and whether it's endangered and how to tell a leopard by its spots (a tiger by its stripes, etc.)

For the past few years, Robert Crowther has explored various transportation options, Trains in 2006 and Flight the following year. Now he's onto Ships and he starts at the beginning of the story, with Egyptians, Romans and Vikings. Crowther's books pack a lot of information into a deceptively simple, accessible design that combines pulls and flaps with large – and small – scale pops of vessels. He explains everything from propellers to ports, poles to oars, simple sailing craft to complex ocean liners and aircraft carriers.

As easy as . . .

The cover of French designer Marion Bataille's ABC3D alone – a hologram that cycles through the first four letters of the alphabet – is worth the price of admission. Inside is no less enchanting: letters spring, unfold or flip into place as the pages are turned. "C" flips to become "D," conjoined lowercase "i" and "j" share a red spiraled dot, appropriated angled black strokes on vellum change "O" and "P" to their successors, and so on.

David A. Carter's Yellow Square continues his inventive pop – up puzzles. Using his signature palette, he challenges readers to find the graphic element, in this case a yellow square, hidden amid a pull – up "swirligig," net – encased Seuss – like towers, a Mondrian – inspired construction and a jiggly tree.

Do it yourself

If reading the above has left you inspired to try your own pop – ups, you won't find a better resource than The Pocket Paper Engineer, the second work by renowned instructor Carol Barton. The book is a step – by – step guide to 10 projects exploring two essential pop – up elements: platforms and props (spirals, tabs, etc.). Barton's own works are in collections such as the Getty Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

A special holiday gift from a picture-book master, Eric Carle's Dream Snow Pop-up Advent Calendar. In this scene from Carle's bright, colorful world, a tree stands in the snow with presents underneath and Santa nearby – and a field of windows hiding trinkets to be added to the tree. (Meanwhile, the calendar's cover, sleeve and […]

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