The Wonderful World of Pop-Up Books

Dr. Michelle H. Martin, the Beverly Cleary Professor for Children and Youth Services in UW’s Information School, taught an elective this spring, The History of Children’s and Young Adult Literature (LIS 598) and asked her students to contribute to the Special Collections blog as a class assignment. Because this class made extensive use of the historical children’s literature collections in the library, Dr. Martin asked them to delve more deeply into a few texts in composing these blog posts. Impressed with the pop-up books, the students chose to focus on this collection. The following posts are the results of their wonderful efforts.

An Old Oz, A New Oz
by Katrina Belton

L. Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900 by George M. Hill Company, illustrated originally by W.W. Denslow. This piece of children’s literature has transcended generations through film, theater and even the opera. The book itself has been adapted into shorter versions for younger readers. Two such versions can be found in the Special Collections of the University of Washington. The first is a moveable adaptation illustrated by Julian Wehr [Book Arts Collection, Call# PS3503.A923 W5 1944], and the second is a pop-up by Robert Sabuda [Book Arts Collection, Call# Z1033.T68 S258 2000]. Movables and pop-up children’s books have been around for over 700 years. Manipulative books for children that were meant for entertainment were first developed out of paper dolls. According to A Concise History of Pop-up and Movable Books, pop-ups and movables did not begin to flourish until the 19th Century, when a company called Dean & Son began publishing.

Wehr created movables during the 1940’s and 50’s in the United States. A century later than Dean & Sons, Wehr’s books were considered toys. Since tin was scarce for toy manufacturers during WWII, the need arose for books that could also be toys. Wehr illustrated several children’s books–some movables, some not; however one of his more popular books was The Wizard of Oz, which was published in 1944 by Saalfield Publishing Company. Saalfield, an Akron, Ohio company, published from 1899 to 1977 (Kent State University). This wonderful book held by Special Collections is in great condition but should be handled with care because of all of the moving parts and spiral binding. Wehr’s illustrations capture the friendship between Dorothy, the Lion, the Tin Man and Scarecrow, but none of the illustrations is more terrifying than that of the Wizard, whose great head looms at readers from the cover. In my opinion, one of Wehr’s best pages to manipulate is when the lion is crying. The pull tab allows the reader to open and close the Lion’s eyes as he cries. Wehr’s simple illustrations, paired with moving parts, really make Dorothy’s story come to life and the land of OZ even more fantastical.

Wehr_Wizard of Oz resize

Compared to Wehr’s simple illustrations, Sabuda’s The Wizard of Oz  is much more extravagant. It was published in 2000 by Little Simon (an offshoot of Simon & Schuster). Sabuda uses every device to create his masterful pop-ups. From noise makers, to 3D glasses, Sabuda uses textures and colors to draw in the eyes of the reader. Each page contains one large pop-up, as well as several hidden within the text flaps. Sabuda is a more contemporary illustrator but has been creating pop-ups since childhood. The book is in excellent condition but should be handled with care. One of the best pages to see is the entrance into the Emerald City. The page requires 3D glasses to see all of the layers, but it really is spectacular. Sabuda’s interpretation of L. Frank Baum’s work is dazzling and presents Dorothy and friends in a shiny new way for a new generation.

Please contact Rare Book and Modern Book Arts curator Sandra Kroupa at if you would like view this book in person.


Saalfield Publishing Company publications | Kent State University Libraries. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2017, from

Concise History of Pop-up and Movable Books. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2017, from

Kubašta and the Bison Hunt
by Le Button


The Day of the Bison Hunt tells an adventure story for children, illustrated and designed by Vojtĕch Kubašta (1914-1992). The edition held by University of Washington’s Special Collections [Rare Book Collection, Call# PZ7 .D33844 1962] was published by Westminster Books in 1962. It is brief–only seven pages long–and tells the story of Silent Step and Siwa, a Native father and son who are waylaid by a sudden storm and must take shelter with a tribe that is preparing for a bison hunt. The story is thrilling, if a bit dated, powerfully evoking nature imagery. However, the book truly shines on its final page, a pop-up tableau depicting the illustrator’s concept of a Native village. In striking colors and with intricate detail, the illustration shows men, women, and children engaged in activities of daily life – weaving, saddling horses, even smoking a peace pipe. The tableau is composed of a mixture of parallel and angle folds, resulting in a deceptively complex scene made all the more eye-catching by the vibrancy of the illustrations. The imagery is far from historically accurate, representing a hodgepodge of elements from disparate cultures. Teepees and totem poles stand alongside war bonnets and canoes, and the story refers to the tribesmen as “wild,” “ferocious,” and “chaotic.” The mid-1960s saw a trend of pop-ups depicting Native and First Nations scenes such as Going West (1962) and The Indians (1963), both from the Wagner Company.

Kubašta was born in Vienna but moved with his family to Czechoslovakia when he was 4 years old. He studied to be an architect but made his living as a commercial artist and graphic designer. His career in children’s illustration began in the late 1950s, and from 1960 to 1989, he designed and illustrated more than fifty pop-up books, including fairy tales, bible stories, and historical exploits. Most of these were initially put out by ARTIA, a Czech publisher, but his work was often translated and distributed worldwide. Between 1961 and 1964, Kubašta produced a number of Tip and Top books which featured the adventures of a pair of young boys and their dog, Tap, as they journey to the moon, visit the zoo, and do battle with a dragon. Some of Kubašta’s titles have pop-up tableaux like Bison Hunt while others have more extensive movable illustrations. His contributions to the field of pop-up and movable books have been recognized worldwide, including via gallery shows in Chicago and Prague in 2006.

Kubasta_center redux

Kubasta_right redux

Please contact Rare Book and Modern Book Arts curator Sandra Kroupa at if you would like view this book in person.

The Jolly Jump-Ups and their New House
by Michael Hajostek

This book, published in 1939 by McLoughlin Bros., Inc. of Springfield, Massachusetts) is part of the Jolly Jump-Ups series of pop-up books by Geraldine Clyne. The series focuses on the Jolly Jump-Ups, a middle-class family with six children. In The Jolly Jump-Ups and their New House [Rare Book Collection, Call# PZ7.C6274 Jol], the family moves into a new house, with the story and the pop-up illustrations reflecting a comforting, idealized view of middle-class American life in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Despite the current fragile nature of the pop-up illustrations and the book’s spine, this copy has held up remarkably well over the years.

Jolly_Moving Day redux

The publisher, McLoughlin Bros., Inc., originally founded in 1858, pioneered the systematic use of color printing techniques and technologies in children’s books. Over the years, the firm’s publications served to popularize several popular illustrators like Thomas Nast, Palmer Cox, and Ida Waugh. In 1920, the company was sold to Milton Bradley and was moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, after which the company enjoyed some success with the Jolly Jump-Ups series in the 1930s and 1940s. The McLoughlin division of Milton Bradley ultimately stopped production during World War II. Sadly, faced with the threat of liquidation, the McLoughlin line of children’s books was sold to Grosset & Dunlap in 1954.

Jolly_Mothers Day redux

Geraldine Clyne, whose real name was Goldie J. Klein, is notable for being the first woman illustrator to receive credit on the cover of a pop-up book. Even though she was the only one credited on the cover (under her pseudonym), she worked collaboratively with her husband, Benjamin Klein, on the Jolly Jump-Ups series. Goldie and her husband, who were inspired by German pop-up books, designed a new paper engineering process for the series, which utilized a single sheet that was cut and folded to create 3-dimensional images. Before the Kleins developed this new technique, pop-up books had been made from die-cut sheets that were glued onto flat pages. Each Jolly Jump-Ups illustration, however, was printed on a single sheet, which was die-cut and folded to form a 3-D scene. The flat portions of the illustration were glued to stiff boards so the pop-up would stand as the page opened. As a result, the books were formatted horizontally, with the text printed parallel to the spine. The Kleins produced the artwork for each book at three times its finished size; Benjamin drew the houses and cars, and Goldie drew the people (their daughter, Judy, even posed for some of the illustrations of Judy Jump-Up and the character’s many siblings). Despite the fact that Benjamin patented their pop-up book design, many publishers imitated it in the production of pop-up books.

Ultimately, The Jolly Jump-Ups and their New House reflects the Kleins’ pioneering work in the production of pop-up books–the influence of which was felt in the industry for years to come.

Please contact Rare Book and Modern Book Arts curator Sandra Kroupa at if you would like view this book in person.


Montanaro, A. R. (2004). Geraldine Clyne (1899-1979). In J. DuLong (Ed.), A celebration of pop-up and movable books. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Movable Book Society.

Wasowicz, L. (n.d.). McLoughlin Bros Collection. American Antiquarian Society. Retrieved from

The Speaking Picture Book:
A Forerunner to “See & Say” Toys

by Victoria Comer

This showpiece of any moveable or toy collection was originally produced in Nuremberg, Germany, by publisher Theodore Brand (c. 1893). Stored in an archival box, in the University of Washington’s Special Collections department [Rare Book Collection, Call# 099 Sp31], the book is one of two copies in the collection donated by Pamela Harer. Covered in a rich red cloth, with rich gilded sides with nine ivory pull strings (one pull string was damaged and has been repaired), the book has light rubbing and wear from the many years of use. On the front, readers can see a mother showing her children how to handle the book with care, as children would have been taught to do.


Inside there are eight story vignettes that go together with nine sound pull strings (“Momma and Papa” are one story with two separate pull strings). Chromolithographic illustrations on the left pages, the first of which appears across from the title page, are accompanied by a page of text in verse on a large yellow panel, on the right and inside a rounded-edged rectangle. The book’s intricately detailed illustrations indicate that this toy book would have been made available only to the wealthiest of families at the time. The short poetic verses are silly little rhymes about animals and the children’s parents. The text was created with letter press technique. A small arrow, pointing to the corresponding sound pull string, shows the users which pull string to use to make the animal and parental sounds. Made with a series of paper bellows, the sounds are produced when a user pulls a pull string.

The user then can hear a fairly authentic animal voice for “The goat,” or an early rendition of the “Charlie Brown adult” (who are as unintelligible as all adults are in Charlie Brown videos) for Mama and Papa. The Speaking Picture Book is an item of such fascination that it is sure to delight, as users can’t help but be captivated by its charm.

The Speaking Picture Book must be delicately removed from its archival box and the spine supported prior to a user looking at the book. Please contact Rare Book and Modern Book Arts curator Sandra Kroupa at if you would like view this book in person.

Dean’s New Book of Magic Illuminations
by Melissa Slocum

Dean & Son, one of the most well-known children’s book publishers of the era, began operating circa 1800 in London at Threadneedle Street (Kroupa, 2008). For more than a century, Dean & Son was at the cutting edge of children’s toy, pop-up and moveable books.

Dean and sons 2







According to Egoff and Hagler, the term ‘toy book’ came into use in the middle of the nineteenth century to describe a large-format picturebook published with paper covers and selling for a sixpence (a sturdier linen-reinforced edition sold for a shilling)” (1998). Dean & Son were inventors in this new area of publishing and began to add more and more toy and moveable books to their catalog, “creating over sixty movable titles from 1850 – 1900” (Baron et al, 2004). They quickly dominated the market and “[b]y the middle of the nineteenth century, Dean & Son had established a virtual monopoly on all forms of movable books” (Baron et al, 2004). However, by the 1880s, Dean & Son began producing other types of toy books as well (Baron et al, 2004).

Dean and sons 4







This particular book is an excellent example of the toy books Dean & Son produced in addition to the traditional pop-ups and other movables. Dean’s New Book of Magic Illuminations was published circa 1862 and can be used with a light source to illuminate the illustrations (Plunkett, 2007). While the book shows wear, the illustrations are remarkably bright and clear. The Victorian fascination with the industrial revolution and the modern age is evident in many of the illustrations. With beautifully detailed, colored illustrations paired with very short, lively text describing each illustration, this book offers a fascinating peek into what entertainment could be like during the Victorian period.

Please contact Rare Book and Modern Book Arts curator Sandra Kroupa at if you would like view this book in person.


Baron, A., Boehm, A., Montanaro, Ann R., Rubin, Ellen G. K., Sabuda, R., & Ziegler, R. (2004). Dean & Son. In J. DeLong (Ed.), Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Movable Book Society. Movable Book Society.

Egoff, S., & Hagler, Ronald. (1998). Toy Books, Transformations, Moveable Books, Pop-Ups And Other Curiosities. In Books that shaped our minds: A bibliographical catalogue of selections chiefly from the Arkley Collection of Early & Historical Children’s Literature in the Special Collections and University Archives Division, the University of British Columbia Library (Occasional publication (University of British Columbia. Library); no. 3). Vancouver: University of British Columbia Library.

Plunkett, J., (2007). Moving Books/Moving Images: Optical Recreations and Children’s Publishing 1800-1900. 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century. (5). DOI:

Kroupa, Sandra, curator (2008). Uncle Buncle’s Visit to Little Johnny Green. In Looking Glass for the Mind: 350 Years of Books for Children. Children’s Historical Literature Collection. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from

A Delightful Red Riding Hood
from Another Time

by Michelle H. Martin

This vibrantly-illustrated pop-up book by Austrian-born, Czech artist Vojtĕch Kubašta (1914-1992), tells a version of the Little Red Riding Hood story most closely resembling the Grimms’ version.  The whole book has a vertical orientation, and even the front cover has a manipulative feature: readers can make the wolf’s red tongue move in and out, which also makes Red hide further behind a tree.

Riding Hood cover resize 1

One of the most interesting aspects of this pop-up book is that Kubašta made nearly all of the pop-ups from a single sheet of paper that he cut and folded in interesting ways, making them pop out from the page.  In the opening double-page spread, Red Riding Hood and her father, both pop-outs, appear on opposite sides of the page.  He carries a wheelbarrow of wood on the left, and a lamb follows Red on the right as she carries the basket to Granny’s. Readers can see Red’s white dog behind an open door while ducks and chickens wander the yard, clearly pointing to this family’s agrarian lifestyle.  As readers turn the pages, they can see the yellow string that holds the book together in the middle of the page.  In this version, Red’s mother warns her about the “big bad wolf” who “would eat you.” The way Granny will know it’s Red is she’ll knock at the door three times—a signal Granny will recognize.

Red redux 1

Unfortunately, when Red meets the wolf, she doesn’t recognize him, though the narrator does: “It was the Big Bad Wolf, of course, but Little Red Riding Hood had never seen one before and so she did not know this.”  She then gives him Too Much Information, including the secret knock, enabling the Big Bad Wolf to trick Granny when he arrives at the cottage ahead of Red, further enabled by Granny’s poor eyesight.  After Red tells him, “What Big teeth you have,” and he gobbles her up, he eats all the food and drinks the bottle of wine she has brought for Granny—hence, it comes as no surprise that the forester (walking by with his gleaming knife), hears the wolf “snoring away” as he also dreams of another sumptuous meal—as if two humans and a basket of food were not enough.

The story ends happily (at least for the humans), but to absorb those details, you’ll have to request the book in the UW Special Collections and see it for yourself.  Though some of the pull-tabs are worn and the copy is somewhat delicate, Kubašta’s colorful art, with a Czech flair, and the pop-ups that were once flat pieces of thick paper, will still provide wonder and enjoyment to contemporary readers. Kubašta* must also have had a lively sense of humor, for the back cover will make any reader smile.

Red_back redux

*For additional information on Kubašta, see Le Button’s blog post on Kubašta The Day of the Bison Hunt.

Please contact Rare Book and Modern Book Arts curator Sandra Kroupa at if you would like view this book in person.

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