Great children’s stories seem to jump off the page and grab readers’ attention. In the world of pop-up books, this literally happens — with three-dimensional illustrations soaring off the page and extending the boundaries of the story right out of the book. Pop-ups are hard to resist. By their very form, they invite reader engagement: to pull tabs, play with moving parts, and wonder about how the paper engineering works. Here are some that also tell great stories about life, growth and morals.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pop-Up Book
Written and illustrated by Eric Carle
Paper engineered by Keith Finch
14 pages, $29.99
For over 40 years, Eric Carle’s book has been a rite of passage for young children and their parents. Readers have delighted in the voraciously hungry caterpillar who eventually goes through his own rite of passage: retreating into a dark cocoon and later emerging as a beautiful butterfly. The pop-up edition uses the same eye-catching illustrations, which now literally spring to life off the page. Kids can follow the feisty caterpillar as he nibbles through a smorgasbord of stand-up treats, comes to maturity, and is transformed into the butterfly he was meant to be. In addition to the stunning pop-ups, the storyline reinforces key concepts, such as colors and days of the week, that are just right for preschoolers. Better yet, it conveys a story of life and hope. Ages 4 and older.
Everyone Says I Love You
Written and illustrated by Beegee Tolpa
Paper engineered by Michael Caputo
10 pages, $12.99
They’ve been called the three sweetest words — “I love you!” This delightful book takes readers on a round-the-world tour to see how people say these special words around the globe. Each pop-up spread introduces a different country and language. By the end of the book, readers will know how people say “I love you” in America, Italy, The Netherlands, Japan, Kenya and France. The pop-ups of the Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower are particularly engaging. Ages 4 and older.
In the Beginning: The Art of Genesis
Written and illustrated by Chuck Fischer
Paper engineered by Bruce Foster
Little, Brown and Company, 2008
12 pages, $35
The branches of the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden stretch across a two-page spread, a three-dimensional ark straddles a mountaintop, and, on the centerpiece page of this book, the Tower of Babel soars more than a foot above its base pages. Particularly stunning in this collection of six stories drawn from Genesis is the stained-glass interpretation of Jacob’s Ladder. The book begins with the creation story and concludes with Joseph in the court of Pharaoh. Ages 10 and older.
Beauty and the Beast: A Pop-Up Book of the Classic Fairy Tale
Retold, illustrated and paper engineered by Robert Sabuda
Little Simon, 2010
12 pages, $29.99
A weary merchant finds shelter in a castle during a storm. His unseen host provides him with everything he needs. However, when the merchant plucks a rose for his daughter, Beauty, the hideous host appears and unfolds in front of readers’ eyes. The “Beast” demands the merchant’s daughter in payment for the theft, and Beauty honors the bargain. Later, she sheds tears as the Beast lays dying. Her tears transform the Beast into the handsome prince that he once was. Beauty learns not to trust appearances, a springboard for discussing how God judges the heart, not the outward appearance. Ages 10 and older.
The Sound of Music: A Classical Collectible Pop-Up
Adapted by Bert Fink
Written by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Howard Lindsay, Russel Crouse
Illustrated by Dan Andreasen
Paper engineered by Bruce Foster
Little Simon, 2009
14 pages, $26.99
This tender story of faith and family started life as Maria Von Trapp’s memoir and later evolved into a Broadway musical and movie. Now, young readers can hold in their hands a “Sound of Music” theater. Open the book, and the Austrian Alps reach heavenward. A young woman from the local convent joyfully spins 360 degrees in awe of the beauty of God’s creation. Turn the pages, and a grand staircase unfolds with the Von Trapp children, ranked from the youngest, 5-year-old Gretl, to the oldest, the “16-going-on-17” Liesel. The book culminates with the family crossing the Alps (“Climb Every Mountain”) to freedom from the Nazis. Lyrics included. Ages 10 and older.
Brava, Strega Nona!: A Heartwarming Pop-Up Book
Written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola
Paper engineered by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
Putnam Juvenile, 2008
12 pages, $29.99
Strega Nona, an Italian grandma, wants one and all to know the six secrets of a blessed life. Famiglia (family) is where it begins. A towering tree springs up, complete with portraits of Strega Nona’s loved ones and Strega Nona herself seated on a swing hanging from a branch. Mangia (eating together) is brought to life with a 3-D grape arbor under which a family happily shares a meal and stories. Amici (friends), pazienza (patience with friends), celebrazione (celebration) and, of course, amore (love) round out a happy life. Amore is, in fact, the secret ingredient shown, as red hearts, bubbling out of Strega Nona’s pasta pot. Ages 4 and older.
Written and illustrated by Jane Ray
12 pages, $19.99
The traditional story of Snow White unfolds in these pages, with its time-honored lessons of the ways in which goodness and kindness triumph over evil, eventually giving way to a happily-ever-after ending. In this version, the story unfolds in an unusual pop-up format. Each turn of the page results in the creation of a mini puppet theater. Clever paper engineering provides delicate layers of scenery through which readers can peer — a beautiful design that will draw children into the storyline. Ages 8 and older.
The Crawford sisters read and write from Pittsburgh.