cover image Gutenberg's Gift.: A Book Lover's Pop-Up Book

Gutenberg's Gift.: A Book Lover's Pop-Up Book

Nancy Willard. Wild Honey, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200783-6

In this strangely conceived pop-up fantasy in rhyme, Willard (Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch) imagines Gutenberg with a wife for whom he is determined to create a printed Bible by Christmas. Step by step, he blithely solves his technical problems and presents her with the book. She proclaims her joy and simultaneously hints at the future of his invention: ""Open our shutters to the sun./ You shall make books for everyone."" The verse is well composed and buoyant-but, as H. George Fletcher, curator at the Morgan Library, points out in a decidedly debunking afterword, it ignores rather than builds upon the historical record. There's no evidence that Gutenberg ever had a wife, and it took him many years to develop and use movable type. Meanwhile, Leister's atmospheric, attractively detailed Renaissance-style paintings don't benefit much from the pop-up frills; with the exception of a model printing press with movable parts, not much actually pops, and pull-tabs have little effect. Neither book lovers nor pop-up lovers will find much to romance them. All ages. (Nov.)