Pop (Up) Culture

Those who have puzzled over how pop-up books work can learn about them from the master in Let's Make It Pop-Up by David A. Carter and James Diaz. Diagrams and explanations help readers make eight pop-up creations, from butterflies to gingerbread houses, with one project per page. Each has no more than eight steps plus key photos, and an accompanying example of the completed pop-up. The back of the book contains the paper materials needed, but after some practice, intrepid craftspeople should be able to use the instructions to make pop-ups of their own design. (S&S/Little Simon, $12.95 10p ages 4-10 ISBN 0-689-86508-2; Mar.)

The stars of Dr. Seuss's familiar title, first published in 1989, now appear in 3-D, in The Pop-Up Mice of Mr. Brice, illus. by Roy McKie. Wheels, flaps and other accoutrements, bring the mice to life in all shapes and sizes and boasting a variety of talents. A piece of string lets children learn to tie a bow along with Mary Rose, a pull of the tab helps them identify colors with Gertie ("the reading mouse") or times of the day with clock rider Waldo (thanks to a dial on the side of the page). (Random, $16 22p ages 5-8 ISBN 0-679-80132-4; May)

Adventures in Art

A quartet of titles examines art in its many incarnations. Cave: An Evocation of the Beginnings of Art by Richard Lewis brings together sculpture and text to visualize the origins of art. Elizabeth Crawford's sculptures appear in haunting, full-bleed photos by George Hirose. Based on Lewis's 1979 theater performance, his spare text explores relationships between early humans and the natural world and envisions how their coming together led to artistic creation: "There, in cave darkness/ we took our hands,/ and on the rock bones/ we made you move." (Touchstone Center [Biblio, dist.], $14 paper 56p all ages ISBN 1-929299-03-6; Feb.)

Wake Up Our Souls: A Celebration of Black American Artists by Tonya Bolden offers a thorough look into the lives of black artists. She begins with artists such as sculptor Edmonia Lewis and painter Edward Mitchell Bannister and chronicles the racism and discrimination these and later artists faced—forces that often inspired visually arresting works, such as Norman Lewis's Evening Rendezvous (1962), a chilling, abstract portrayal of Ku Klux Klan activity in a red, white and blue palette. (Abrams, $24.95 128p ages 10-up ISBN 0-8109-4527-4; Mar.)

To Be an Artist by Maya Ajmera and John Ivanko explores what it can mean to be an artist and the ways that children around the globe express themselves through art, including drawing, making music, dancing and acting. Photos of children from dozens of nations accompany the motivational text, which addresses readers directly: "Dressing up, making sandcastles, taking a photograph... these are all ways you can show your creativity." (Charlesbridge/Shakti for Children, $15.95 32p ages 4-9 ISBN 1-57091-503-2; Feb.)

Children can scrutinize many masterpieces in the oversize, paper-over-board Louvre in Close-Up by Claire d'Harcourt. This companion to Art Up Close examines 24 reproductions of art housed in the famed Parisian museum. Each spread (with works such as Imeneminet's coffin [1080—664 BC] and Fra Angelico's The Coronation of the Virgin] includes magnified details, which readers can attempt to locate within the entire piece (answers are provided in the back, along with further information about the artist or artistic media). (Chronicle/Seuil, $19.95 46p ages 5-up ISBN 2-02-051643-8; Mar.)

Hands On!

Fresh interactive titles extend youngsters' reading experience. The pop-ups of All the Ways I Love You by Dorothea DePrisco Wang and Teresa Imperato, illus. by Julie Downing, combine soft watercolors and a rhyming text for a soothing bedtime book. On each page, animals offer reassurance to their offspring ("Baby Giraffe asks Mama, 'Do you love me a lot?' And his mama answers, 'I love your every last spot!' "). (Piggy Toes, $8.95 10p ages 2-up ISBN 1-58117-190-0; Feb.)

Fans of construction and demolition should have a (wrecking) ball with the five movable (and removable) sturdy cardboard trucks in Under Construction by Jessica Perez, illus. by Christine Schneider. Bulldozers and dump trucks can be inserted into die-cut tracks and "driven" on each page to help build the mystery structure (revealed in a final pop-up). (Piggy Toes, $12.95 10p ages *3-up ISBN 1-58117-272-9; Feb.)

Similarly, alongside rhyming couplets, readers guide various farm animals around die-cut tracks to their pop-up homes in On the Farm: A Barnyard Book by Imperato, illus. by Olivia Rayner. In On the Go: A Transportation Book by the same team, readers can take planes, trains and automobiles (among other vehicles) around pop-up terminals, stations and gas pumps. (Piggy Toes, $7.95 each 10p ages 3-up ISBN 1-58117-270-2; -271-0; Feb.)

Traditional rhymes and riddles get a metallic makeover in the paper-over-board My Sparkling Nursery Rhymes, illus. by Rob Hefferan. Softly rendered pastels accented with silver foil stamping depict the silver hands and numerals of the clock in "Hickory Dickory Dock," for instance, nimble Jack jumping over a silver-flamed candlestick and Little Boy Blue's silver horn. (Piggy Toes, $8.95 10p ages 2-up ISBN 1-58117-295-8; Feb.)

Toddler Times

A number of releases focus on babies and toddlers. Youngsters can learn about newborns in Love That Baby! A Book About Babies for New Brothers, Sisters, Cousins, and Friends by Kathryn Lasky, illus. by Jennifer Plecas. Divided into sections such as "Wide-Awake Baby" and "Wet Babies," the volume explains things that all babies do, as well as advice for what to do with crying babies; "Baby Games" offers suggestions such as how to play peekaboo. Plecas's humorous, cartoonish illustrations depict the infants at their happiest, most irritable and often at their messiest. (Candlewick, $15.99 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 1-56402-679-5; Feb.)

In the first of two titles by Barbara Baker, illus. by Catharine O'Neill, Anna's Book depicts Anna and her mother spending quality time re-reading her favorite book. The artwork shows her mother heading off to fold laundry, so Anna takes over, reading to her teddy bear. In Anna Shares, the grumpy heroine learns that she can avoid sharing cookies with her friend by throwing a temper tantrum. With just one line of text per page, Baker portrays Anna honestly and realistically, with gentle moments as well as cranky outbursts. (Dutton, $8.99 each 24p ages 2-up ISBN 0-525-47231-2; -47111-1; Feb.)

Joan Holub uses humor to answer the question, What Can Our New Baby Do?, which places a pie-faced newborn in wacky situations, and uses a flap to return the baby and its older brother to reality. "What will our new baby eat? Polar bears? Hopping fleas? Violins?" A lift of the flap depicts the real menu: "Mushy peas." Holub's jokey humor and zany cartoons may well keep new siblings in stitches while making them feel more comfortable with the prospect of their new family member. (S&S/Little Simon, $7.99 22p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-689-85061-1; Mar.)

Just for Laughs

Two paperback collections of gross-out tales from the author of The Day My Butt Went Psycho! should tickle readers' funny bones: Just Joking! and Just Annoying! by Andy Griffiths, illus. by Terry Denton. In the first, young Andy attempts an array of practical jokes, from pretending to be dead (in order to avoid school) to smearing fake vomit on himself to get a solo seat on an airplane. The second includes far-fetched stories about transvestitism at the school dance (to mimic and annoy his sister) and about dinnertime discussions over whether it is preferable to be eaten by ants or lions. Denton's scribbled pen illustrations fill up the margins on every page, with jokes, bizarre flip book animations and other absurdities. (Scholastic, $4.99 paper each 114p ages 8-11 ISBN 0-439-42472-0; -42471-2; Jan.)

Insect Influx

A swarm of bug-related books hits bookstores this spring. Nightmarishly fantastic creatures burst from the pages of Pop-Up Bugs: Creepy Crawlers Face to Face by Sally Hewitt, illus. by Chris Gilvan-Cartwright. These in-your-face pop-ups confront readers in the form of menacing tarantulas waving hairy legs, scorpions with claws extended and wasps that leap out, mandibles and proboscises waving. Accompanying text is equally creepy: "If you feel on your skin/ A sharp tongue like a pin,/ Then you are probably facing... a mosquito!" (Abrams, $14.95 12p ISBN 0-8109-5032-4; Mar.)

Readers participate in an insect guessing game in Big Bugs! Giant Creepy Crawly Pop-Ups by Keith Faulkner, illus. by Stephen Holmes, with paper engineering by Jonathon Lambert. "What kind of bug is yellow and black,/ lives in a hive, and has wings on its back?" asks the left hand side of the opening spread; on the right, readers open a gatefold to reveal "a Honeybee" that pops from the pages (with a fact below). A ladybug, cricket and butterfly number among the other answers. (Scholastic/Cartwheel, $10.95 14p ages 3-5 ISBN 0-439-49905-1; Feb.)

Beetle-mania runs wild in Jerry Pallotta's latest nature ABC, The Beetle Alphabet Book, illus. by David Biedrzycki. From African Goliath to Zinc Metallic Beetles, the book is both informative and humorous, benefiting from Biedrzycki's lush illustrations. The text ranges from educational (e.g., "The male Giraffe Beetle uses his unique neck to roll up leaves") to entertaining ("It is not polite to ask a ladybug her age"). (Charlesbridge, $16.95 32p ages 3-8 ISBN 1-57091-551-2; $7.95 paper -552-0; Feb.)

Forest Explorer: A Life-Size Field Guide by Nic Bishop uses actual-size photographs of forest-dwelling insects, mammals, reptiles and more to teach aspiring scientists about this accessible habitat. The forest's realm unfolds through the year and the book includes the eating habits and life cycles of its many animals (neatly catalogued in a photographic index). Bishop also includes projects for nature lovers, which animals to look for in different seasons and precautions to take when exploring. (Scholastic, $17.95 48p ages 5-up ISBN 0-439-17480-5; Feb.)