Book Beat

Tabs and Flaps Take on New Dimensions

by Frank Lipsius

Flaps and tabs have long been a favorite accoutrement of adventure books, as exemplified by The Time Traveler’s Journal (Scholastic, $24.99), Explorer: A Daring Guide for Young Adventurers (Candlewick, $15.99), and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide (Disney. $19.99).

Besides flaps that open to reveal hidden messages or miniature books and tabs that pull out to make a ship navigate the world, for instance, they also often contain letters inside envelopes and other clues to give the book itself a sense of exploration.

Flaps and tabs lure active hands and fingers to the realm of literature, especially with innovative novelties such as the clock inside the cover of The Time Traveler’s Journal and the Mayan pop-up in Explorer.

Knight: A Noble Guide for Young Squires (Candlewick, $17.99) transports its audience to the middle ages, where horseback challenges are combined with useful information about how one becomes a knight in a society dominated by jousting, courtly manners and heraldry.

Now the genre is striking out into new directions, starting with The Lost Files of Nancy Drew (Grosset & Dunlap, $19.99), where familiar items such as a flap passport and envelope of postcards are meant specifically for girls (or maybe their moms) who know Nancy Drew and will be drawn to familiar elements in three dimensions, if not to the holographic spyglass on the cover.

Serious Subjects
Human Body: The Ultimate Guide To How the Body Works (Silver Dolphin, $16.95) is a flap and tab book for serious students. The tabs here divide the subject into Circulatory System, Digestive System, Immune System and the other vital human functions. In addition, two human-scale posters of the skeleton and organs along with transparent layers of organs show just how much books can be adapted to their best illustrative function. The hologram on this cover, which shows the facial skeleton behind the skin, announces a book for high-schoolers headed for medical school, or at least seeking a good grounding in human biology.

Mythology: Greek Gods, Heroes, & Monsters (Candlewick, $19.99) might have flashy turquoise reflective-glass gems on the cover, but the contents give a thorough grounding in Greek culture, with extensive descriptions divided by gods and packed with illustrations of Greek sculpture, architecture and drawings.

Robert Marsh’s Extreme Dinosaurs (Atheneum, $21.99) divides the dinosaur kingdom into weight categories and gives a good overview with examples of the most familiar and some very unfamiliar members of each category. Stuart Martin’s illustrations combine pop-ups with flaps that educate, such as the skeleton behind the flesh of a tubby, long-necked brachiosaurus or the embryo inside a dinosaur egg.

Fun for Flappers
Lauren Child’s Charlie and Lola’s I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato (Candlewick, $18.99) takes tabs and flaps into the new direction of turning a fun book about resistance to vegetables into three dimensions. Corina Fletcher’s paper engineering includes impressive pop-ups along with the tabs of vegetables and character reaction to them.

The Mickey Mouse Treasures by Robert Tieman (Disney, $60) follows the history of the Disney cartoon studio with reproductions of historic booklets, envelopes and photos that in their originals would grace a Disney museum and seem like authentic archival materials.

Anyone who enjoyed The Lion King on Broadway or on the road (or just has an interest in the nitty-gritty backstage aspects of the theater) will recall and enrich the experience with Thomas Schumacher and Jeff Kurti’s How Does the Show Go On? An Introduction to the Theater (Disney, $19.95). As producer of The Lion King, Schumacher not only knows the vicissitudes in putting on the breakthrough puppet-human musical, but also has the production’s artifacts, such as the opening-night script, sketches from the costume designer and a Playbill, which enliven and authenticate the book’s unusual history of a historic production.

Robert Crowther’s Flight: A Pop-Up Book of Aircraft (Candlewick, $17.99) might not be authoritative or complete, but its cockpit pop-up and planes that move will fan enthusiasm for planes and lead the way to further exploration in literary form, if not in the air far above its highest pop-up.

Frank Lipsius is a contributing writer to MetroKids.