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.

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