Templar Books recently sent me two brand-new pop-up books which are both excellent, even though one deals with the imaginary and the other is non-fiction. Both books showcase some very nice tactile features, and are bound to entertain (and educate!) your kids.
The Monstrous Book of Monsters (allegedly by monster scientist Dr. Thomas Jelly) is a manual about identifying and running away from monsters, made to look like a spiral-bound notebook with lots of photos, sketches, and scraps of things clipped to the pages. It is not, as my daughter supposed, related to Harry Potter (that would be the Monster Book of Monsters) but I caught her explaining to her younger sister that she needed to stroke the spine before opening it.
I actually took this book with me on our recent camping trip, where there were eight kids ranging in ages from about 1 to 9. We kept the book off-limits for the youngest, but pretty much the entire weekend there was at least one kid flipping through it at one point or another. The text is pretty funny (though parents may not appreciate it when their kids start telling them that toothpaste is actually “monster poop paste”) and there are some pretty fun fold-out features.
You’ll be the best judge of how your kids would react to a book that claims monsters are everywhere around us, but most of the monsters are wacky or gross rather than gruesome, and anyone old enough to read the text would probably not have a problem understanding that it’s all in jest. Not every page has spectacular pop-outs, but every page has at least a few flaps to uncover, and some have mini multi-page booklets as well.
Based on the camping weekend and the subsequent week, I give this two monster thumbs up. The kids love it, and it’s filled with lots of great little details, with plenty of tiny monster sketches filling up all the empty spaces throughout the book. If you’ve got some young readers (particularly those who like poop jokes), then this will be a great addition to your bookshelf … not that it’ll stay there.
And now for something completely different: Physics!
Super Science: Feel the Force! is a pop-up book about physics, and they cram a lot of fun facts and ideas into these pages. The first spread lists all the various aspects of physics and gives a brief introduction: atoms, sound, motion, light, heat, electricity. Later spreads cover some of these aspects (and others) in more detail. There’s a page about pressure which includes the bed of nails seen above, plus a cool pull-the-tab water gun that explains that liquids can’t be compressed and lets you see it in action.
The page about sound waves even has a little one-string instrument that shows how you can change the pitch and volume of a sound. There are also a few simple experiments throughout the book that your kids can try (with some help) to get a little more hands-on experience with things.
As with the monster book, there are a lot of simple lift-the-flap sections of the book, but there are also some really cool tricks they’ve done with paper. One of my favorites is above, in the section explaining conductors and insulators. On the right hand side is a light switch that flips on and off, and on the left is a rotating slider that switches between a length of wire and a rubber duck. When the wire is in place, flipping the switch makes the light bulb turn yellow. But put the duck in place instead, and the switch doesn’t do anything. It’s a clever feature that had me peeking underneath the page to see how they did it.
Both of my kids have spent a lot of time with both books. I think it’s great that they’re learning some simple physics from Super Science, and having fun with their imaginations reading about monsters.