By David A. Carter
(Tate Publishing, 2012)
The pop-up books of my childhood never lasted. Too many hands on them, too many folds that just gave out as the wear and tear from small hands proved unforgiving. Sadly, the few that I came across in classroom and library collections had a short shelf lie. And yet, they were magical works, books to gaze at with wonder while appreciating their unique design.
Pop-up books, while fascinating in and of themselves, can teach children how to value something delicate and, more broadly, how to respect a book. I received the glorious Hide and Seek as a gift shortly after its release and I’m proud to say my copy is well preserved despite having been viewed by many classes of children. The key has been presenting the book to the whole group and treating it as the treasure that it is. At first, I open the book to a random page. There is a chorus of “Whoas” and “Wows”. Little bodies inch up. A few complain they can’t see. (You can get a peek at the book on a YouTube video here.)
I close the book again. It is immediately clear to all, regardless of how much or how little they saw, that this is a special book and it requires a different kind of viewing. We sit on the floor in a circle. I talk about how hands on the book can damage the delicate pieces so extraordinarily designed. I share my own wonder over how they can print multiple copies of such an intricate work.
The tricky part of Hide and Seek is that each page invites searching eyes as harder-to-find features are mentioned in the text.
A fish and a teardrop.
Five black spots, four blossoms blue and a T that is white.
A heart and an arabesque.
A smile, a black Q and a reflection of you.
Yes, each page presents the danger more inching forward. The viewers have to trust that the book will be turned and shifted so that everyone has a chance to nod when he or she was spotted the named objects. The pages invite you to linger.
Carter sticks to a bold, limited palette of red, blue, yellow, black and white. He invites hands to pull tabs and turn wheels to reveal more items on the page. This is when turn taking may bring out calls of “No fair” when someone doesn’t get picked, but I mention that pairs of students may come to my desk during reading times to see the book up close again. It’s amazing to see how carefully they turn and examine each page.
Inevitably, a few features on the page will give out from simple page turns and, yes, from hands that just can’t resist. It’s happened in a couple of places to my copy, but that just serves as a reminder that this pop-up book has been loved.