Once Upon a Pop-up

“Mechanical books should look like ordinary books. Their success is to be measured by the ingenuity with which their bookish format conceals unbookish characteristics.” – Iona and Peter Opie

Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC Library is delighted to announce a new exhibition: Once Upon a Pop-up!

The exhibition, curated by UBC Master of Library and Information Studies candidates Lucas Hill, Brooklyn Kemp, Sarah Khan, and Meaghan Smith, under the supervision of Professor Kathie Shoemaker, have curated a selection of pop-up books from RBSC’s children’s literature collection, ranging from the horror-filled to the historical, from the architectural to Alice in Wonderland.

Pop-up books and their movable book cousins have challenged our assumptions about books and reading for more than 700 years. They push the limits of the “book” and reinterpret the form. Pop-up books combine linear storytelling with aspects of visual spectacle and surprise to bring delight and add new facets to a narrative. Book becomes game. These pop-ups raise the question: how do you “read” something in three dimensions?

Not just for children anymore, pop-up books require exemplary teamwork from experts across the field; authors, illustrators, paper engineers, publishers, designers, and the often dozens of people responsible for putting the pop-up book together, must work as a team to perfect the form. Paper engineering is an art that requires many hands.

Once Upon a Pop-up is on display on level 1 (RBSC reading room) and level 2 (main foyer) of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre from April 11 through May 31, 2018. A complete catalogue of the exhibition can be downloaded here. The exhibition is free and open to the public, and people of all ages are encouraged to attend. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at (604) 822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca.

We hope you will admire the ingenuity and grandeur of the unassuming pop-up book in all of its papery glory as much as we do!