Wednesday, 29 June 2011

A new picture book was

passed over to me for comment in the bookshop yesterday. It was a version of Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Harriet Castor (Hardie Grant Egmont).
The illustrations are detailed. There are flaps to open. Alice can grow longer and shorter by pulling and closing tabs. The Chesire cat can disappear and reappear by similar tabs. There is an amazing pop-up page of the house of cards. As a book it is fun and it will appeal to some children although others may think the illustrations rather old-fashioned.
Although a very reasonable price ($25 in our local indie) I suspect it must still have been expensive to produce.
I read it through - at twenty six pages (and limited print on each page) it did not take me long. I opened the flaps carefully. I pulled the tabs even more carefully. As an adult looking at a book, especially a book which does not belong to me, I was being very cautious. The tabs were rather sticky but I wondered if my paws were part of the problem.
I passed the book back and then mentioned it to a member of the knitting group who is particularly interested in "pop-up" books. She asked to see it. In the interim however one of the staff, a little less patient and careful than me, had pulled the Chesire Cat tab. It had stuck and she could not return it to the original position. It seemed the cat had gone for good and only the grin remained.
Someone else managed to restore the cat but it is clearly a weakness with the book. The idea is a good one but it needs to work well. If the book is intended for children then the tabs need to work well. They need to be robust enough to withstand a fair amount of wear.
As much fun as it is I would hesitate to buy the book for a child because it is not easy to use. It is disappointing that a publisher with such an excellent reputation should spend so much and not produce a robust result.
What I did do though was read a little of it aloud. There was a collective sigh. All the members of the group are familiar with Alice, the original Alice.


jeanfromcornwall said...

I remember pop-up and pull tab books from both my and my children's childhoods - for all the fun they were, they were not as satisfying as the books themselves. While working in the bookshop, it was one of my responsibilities to do the running repairs and there were quite a lot of them.

Thinking of illustrations for "Alice" I really like the Helen Oxenbury ones.

catdownunder said...

Oh, so do I!
Yes, pop up and pull tabs and flaps are all fun but the story is the best part!

JO said...

Doesn't it depend on the age of the child - my granddaughter is the most advanced on the planet (of course), but even she - at ten months - can't quite cope with Alice. But she does love flaps - they are a great introduction to books for tinies, before they get the hang of stories.