I LOVE pop-up books. For years my family and all of the Greenleaf employees have made fun of my fascination with pop-up books. To me, they are marvels of engineering and endlessly entertaining. My family simply observes that I am apparently, “easily amused.” But pop-up books combine all of the virtues of a book… with the added bonus that they not only give you words and pictures, but also 3-dimensional models to study. I have a crop of four pop-ups to recommend to our Greenleaf customers here at the end of 2007 (and yes, they do make good Christmas presents).
The four titles are The Amazing Pop-Up Stonehenge,The Pompeii Pop-Up,
Shakespeare’s Globe - An Interactive Pop-Up Theatre, and The White House - A Pop-Up Book.
The Amazing Pop-Up Stonehenge is, quite simply, amazing! Its text is aimed at the inquisitive child, but my experience is that adults have the same questions: Who built stonehenge? How was it built? Why was it built? The double-page spread on pages 4-5 shows an overall view of the entire complex when it was completed, with 2 concentric circles of stones surrounding two open horseshoes - including the five tall sarsens - which look like giant stone doorways. There is an intriguing discussion of how far the builders of Stonehenge had to transport the stones and the primitive but effective tools that they used to shape them. This is followed by a discussion (and depiction) of how the stones were stood up - and a frank admission that we don’t really know how the horizontal lintels were placed on top of the standing stones. What follows is a discussion of the various clues that archaeologists use to date Stonehenge and then a very nice depiction of the astronomical significance of the Heelstone (the sun rises above it on Midsummer’s day) and the central doorway (the sun sets between the uprights on Midwinter’s day). I REALLY like the straightforward factual answers on the last page: Sample 1: “Why haven’t you talked about the Druids? Because the Druids don’t really have anything to do with STonehenge. The real Druids were priests who lived at least 1,000 years after Stonehenge stopped being used as a temple.” Sample 2: “What really went on at Midsummer and Midwinter? We haven’t any real ides. There may have been processions, strange ceremonies, perhaps even sacrifices, but we have never found any trace of these things.” imported from England, the price is $25. Order by clicking “Stonehenge Pop-up” here or find it in the Middle Ages section of our catalog.
Admitting what we don’t know about Stonehenge adds to the mystery and the fascination. Incidentally, if you’re interested in Stonehenge, I will be leading a Schaeffer Study Center Tour of England and Scotland in March of 2009. We will begin our historical sightseeing in England at Stonehenge and after traveling to Bath, London, Oxford, and Stratford, we will finish by visiting York and Edinburgh. We’ll make a more detailed announcement next Spring and start taking reservations. The group will be limited to about 35 high school students, parents, and friends.
The Pompeii Pop-Up contains eight large and small pop-up spreads depicting a Roman merchant ship, a typical Roman forum, a Roman theater, and a Roman home. But the centerpiece of this book is the pop-up volcano in full eruption with a glowing cloud emerging from the summit and terrified citizens fleeing towards the reader in the foreground, followed by scenes of the destruction of both Pompeii and the nearby seaside town of Herculaneum. This is a great book to introduce Roman culture to your elementary grade students. Seeing it in three dimensions makes a difference. The price is $29.95. Order by clicking “Pompeii Pop-Up” here or you can find it in the Ancient Rome section of the online catalog.
Shakespeare’s Globe - An Interactive Pop-Up Theatre is a different take on the pop-up genre. As you open the book up, the reader is presented with three distinct parts. One part is a marvelous six-inch-high three dimensional pop-up of the Globe Theatre with one side cutaway to reveal the interior. In the center of the book is an illustrated introduction to the Globe and to the plays of Shakespeare, suitable for upper elementary and junior high students. The third component are a set of two scripts and paper cut-outs of characters from Shakespeare’s plays so that your students can do their own miniature readings/performances in the pop-up Globe on stage. The pop-up will not survive rough handling by young fingers, so I’d reserve this book for kids from about age 10 and up. But for your 4th and 5th graders this might intrigue them in a way that no other introduction to Shakespeare could. The price is $19.99. You can order by clicking “Pop-Up Globe” here or find it in the Renaissance / Reformation section of the online catalog.
My final pop-up is The White House - A Pop-Up Book. The White House has a long and celebrated history, not just as the residence of the US President, but also as a house “of the people,” and a place where culture and the arts are celebrated. It is the American answer to the European castles and palaces with its own distinctive features. The interior spreads include a “carousel” of State Rooms, a Gallery of the Presidents, and the star attraction, a fully three-dimensional pop-up of the White House itself (nine inches by nine inches by four inches high). The paper engineering is ingenious, but the depiction of the building itself helps you to picture and understand it in a unique way. The book also includes a unique design element, a “diorama” of the national mall, constructed as an accordion pull-out. When you look in the window at the end of the pull-out, you see all of the mall monuments stretched out before you with the Lincoln Memorial in the foreground, the Washington Monument behind it, and in the distance, the US Capitol. Its an innovative bit of paper engineering. The price is $19.95. You can order by clicking “Pop-Up White House” here, or find it in the Nineteenth Century section of our online catalog.
- Rob Shearer, Publisher