Pop-up books had been always a problem for me. When I was a child I received many of them but they were quite “ugly” regarding the illustrations and the composition and sometimes they didn’t work well. It’s true that when you’re eight years old you haven’t a delicate way to take and play with things but too many times my pop-up book ended its life too early.
I confess that I’m not so in love with the pop-ups but during the last years I found out another school of artists, engineers, architects and graphic designers who dedicate their life to this kind of books. I really had been surprised to see the way of playing with papers and pages of these people.
The concept itself is that the story is coming out the pages. I think I understood that there are two basic points of view on books: on one side, they try to attract you with the Mary-Poppins-effect, and you find yourself walking into them; on the other side they try to enter into your own life. And these two way are not opposite but complementary, as I think they’re the roots for every good written and illustrated book. And with pop-up books this is maybe more evident.
Let’s take the last new entry in my house: Popville by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud, published in France by the fantastic Helium, in Italy by Corraini and in Spain by Kókinos (and there should be more editions which I didn’t find out).
When you start opening the book, you firstly see a church. This is the first cultural interesting point: why a church? Well, this is like a little story of urbanism…
The point is that on the following page you find out that some houses had been built around that building, and after that more and more until you can find an entire city. Through every page traffic rises, houses are built, the city hall, the fabrics and the streets take the territory and change it forever.
The work around the structure, the rise and development of a town and the graphic study are fantastic. Few colours, few geometric lines and simple and simplified buildings that you can identify. And at the very end of the book, the space of the two pages in not enough to contain the town, and you have to open the flaps and look at it.
At the end a comment, a short two-pages story written by Joy Sorman explains us and imagines one the possible origins of this town, the movement around it, the decision of some men and women to live in a place and build their own life there. I don’t know if it’s really a good choice to put the text at the end. I find it a little pointless.
Two things that make me think between others: there is always a center, and this is a consideration about life, too. And trees totally disappear.