A recent release from Random House’s Robin Corey Books imprint gives a timeless Dr. Seuss tale added dimension. Horton Hears a Who Pop Up!, published this month with a 100,000-copy first printing, features elaborate paper engineering by David A. Carter, including five pop-up spreads, 11 booklets containing additional pop-up scenes, numerous pull-tabs and other special effects. This first-ever pop-up adaptation of a Seuss story makes a timely appearance, as 20th Century Fox Animation’s CGI animated film based on the 1954 Horton Hears a Who!, starring the voices of Jim Carrey, Steve Carell and Carol Burnett, opens on March 14.

Robin Corey, v-p, publishing director of Robin Corey Books, edited many pop-up books during her 11 years at Simon & Schuster, a number of them by Carter, whose Bugs in a Box series has sold more than six million copies. Soon after arriving at Random House in February 2006, she began thinking about doing a pop-up version of a Dr. Seuss book. “I am a huge fan of Dr. Seuss and I quietly broached the idea, not wanting to step on any toes,” she says. “But Kate Klimo [v-p, publisher of Random House Books for Young Readers/Golden Books] welcomed the idea with open arms. I had originally considered adapting The Cat in the Hat, but when I learned that the Horton Hears a Who! movie was due in spring 2008—and I’ve always loved Horton—I decided to do that book.”

A contract was signed with the Seuss estate, and Corey was thrilled to learn that Carter was available and interested in the project. Editor and paper engineer then put their heads together, Corey explains, “to discuss what aspects of the art would lend themselves to dimensionalization, which special effects to do and what kind of paper to use. The collaboration was an absolute pleasure.” According to Corey, Carter’s artwork was impressive even from the storyboard stage. “He had captured the pacing of this story, which starts out quietly, builds and goes ‘bam, bam, bam’ a few times and then ends quietly. David started and ended with a flat spread and created five big Rube Goldberg-esque pop-up spreads in between. He is a genius.”

For his part, Carter praises Corey’s willingness to take chances. “She is responsible in many ways for the second boom in pop-ups, the larger, complicated pop-up books,” he says. Though Carter admits Horton was not the most technically complex project he has undertaken, he found that his biggest challenge was “to keep the integrity of the original Seuss and add more to it through the pop-ups.”

At the onset, Carter (who notes that Green Eggs and Ham was the first book he ever read by himself) spent a good bit of time rereading the original Horton Hears a Who! “I channeled Dr. Seuss and tried to get into Ted Geisel’s head to figure out what he was thinking as he did these illustrations,” he says. “I not only spent time with Horton but also with other Seuss books to get an idea of what he was like. As a paper engineer, I like to go back and forth with the original artist and say, ‘What about this?’ This time, I had to try to do that without him being there.”

A top priority for Carter and Corey was incorporating the entire text of Horton in the pop-up edition. “We both wanted to include every word, comma and exclamation point, and we did,” the editor says, crediting Jan Gerardi, the book’s art director and designer, with successfully tackling that task. Gerardi was also responsible for colorizing the art where necessary, since the original book had only three colors, and extending the illustrations, in Seuss’s style, as needed.

Carter's recent appearance at Third
Place Books in Seattle.

Random House is going to great lengths to reach as many younger and older Horton fans as possible. In addition to on-line, radio and print advertising, the house has launched an extensive marketing and publicity campaign, including a January author tour that featured paper-engineering workshops with Carter; a “Horton Hears You!” promotion in which kids can call a tollfree number and leave the elephant a message about a good deed they’ve done (they will then receive a thank-you message from Horton encouraging them to visit a dedicated Web site); a consumer sweepstakes to win a family trip to Universal Studios Theme Park in Orlando to meet Horton; and mixed-copy floor displays for both the trade and mass markets.

Next month, the company is also publishing Horton Hears a Who! Party Edition featuring a foil cover, and five activity books based on the classic, lending credence to the burst on a Random House Horton promotional mailing that proclaims 2008 “the year of the elephant.

Horton Hears a Who Pop-up! by Dr. Seuss and David A. Carter. Random House/Corey, $25.99, 978-0-375-84194-1 ages 4-up