If you needed proof that pop-ups aren't really meant for children, look no further than The White House: A Pop-Up Book. Produced in conjunction with the White House Historical Association, the book is full of artist Chuck Fischer's color-drenched paintings. It offers a concise overview of the construction and major renovations of the White House as well as a brief history of Washington, D.C. One informative page explains the symbolism in Gilbert Stuart's famous portrait of our first president; the picture opens to reveal the names, images and dates of the rest of the commanders-in-chief. (First Ladies are featured on a subsequent page.) The book's pièce de résistance has to be the carousel of rooms Blue, Green, Red, the Lincoln Bedroom and the Entrance and Cross halls and numerous archival photographs. Especially now, with access to the White House so restricted, this book is a wonderful experience.
Among the leaders of the genre's renaissance is Robert Sabuda. Far younger than his acclaim would suggest, Sabuda has been synonymous with pop-up books since the publication of The Christmas Alphabet in 1996. His latest, America the Beautiful, pairs Sabuda's signature white paper sculptures on brightly colored backgrounds with the lyrics of the song. From the Golden Gate Bridge with toy-paper boats floating below to a detailed Mississippi riverboat (the silver effects Sabuda uses in "water" are brilliant) to the monument-filled Mall of Washington, D.C., the regional symbols Sabuda chooses are spectacular. Kids will enjoy finding shapes including a scarecrow in the field and barn beneath the rotating windmill in one spread (shown above). But the New York City skyline steals the show. The question is: has Sabuda been approached by one of the NYC department stores to design its holiday windows?
LITTLE ALTARS EVERYWHERE
Perhaps the most unusual title among recent pop-ups is Tibetan Buddhist Altars. A collaboration between illustrator Robert Beer, an expert on Tibetan silk brocade thangka paintings, and Tad Wise, who has previously written about Tibetan prayer flags, this book is intended not as a curiosity, but for reflection and meditation on the go. Nevertheless, the mini-altars are somewhat kitschy, like '60s poster art gone 3-D. Renowned paper engineer David A. Carter (the Bugs in a Box series, The Nutcracker) interpreted the designs into the pop-up format.
IF THEY BUILD IT
Intricate, that's the best word to describe The Architecture Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Anton Radevsky (The Pop-Up Book of Spacecraft) and text by the aptly named Pavel Popov. Ancient and Old World gems such as the Pyramids, the Roman Coliseum and Notre Dame are included, as are New World icons like the Chrysler Building don't be dismayed by its initial stunted appearance, just follow the directions. Two Guggenheims, Frank Lloyd Wright's and Frank Gehry's, and a Salvatore Calatrava (designer of Athens' new Olympic stadium and the Ground Zero transit station) bridge round out these magnificent three-dimensional representations.
BUMP IN THE NIGHT
Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a traditional pop-up with things that spring up, slide out or flip open. Alan Dingman's rich, dark illustrations evoke the kind of gloomy, scary feeling appropriate for this story of a young girl lost in the woods, with only a radio broadcast of a Red Sox game and imagined conversations with her beloved Number 36 for company. The forest scenes, with their layers of trees, are especially impressive.
DON'T BE A BLOCKHEAD
On the other end of the spectrum is the simple, sweet Peanuts: A Pop-Up Celebration. A new way to enjoy old favorites, or to introduce them to the next generation, the book includes Lucy's psychiatrist stand, Snoopy's doghouse and Woodstock's birdbath, Shroeder's piano, and of course, Charlie Brown attempting to kick the football. May we respectfully suggest "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" or "A Charlie Brown Christmas" for future pop-up interpretations of Charles Schultz's evergreen series?