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Making Books That Fly, Fold, Wrap, Hide, Pop Up, Twist, And Turn: Books for Kids to Make by Gwen Diehn

Book Review
Making Books That Fly, Fold, Wrap, Hide, Pop Up, Twist, And Turn: Books for Kids to Make by Gwen Diehn (Lark Books, 1998).
Ages 11 and up.

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As Gwen Diehn explains, a book can be just a cover and some pages, with the author's message carried by the text and illustrations. Or, the book itself can be part of the message. "A book of poems about flying that has pop-ups that fly up off the pages may be more interesting than a book of poems about flying that has ordinary flat pages."

This is a book about how to make books that are works of art, where the shape and interactivity of the book express the author's message as much as the text and illustrations do. Diehn marries idea with technique throughout the book. Each project is an idea, such as a museum book that unfolds to give the reader the feeling of walking through a museum. As she explains how to do the idea, she works in all the necessary bookmaking techniques.

That means that if you're looking for a certain technique, like how to sew a binding, you'll have to depend on the index. The organization is classic Big Learning - you learn lots of useful things while creating a project you care about.

Diehn can be a bit mysterious in her introduction to each project. Sometimes you read it and say to yourself, "OK, but what is it?" Sometimes you have to wade through the detailed descriptions just to decide whether this thing is something you want to make or not. The finished-product photographs are often insufficient to show you how the book works.

Diehn is careful to say that she doesn't want the reader to treat her projects like a cookbook; rather they are starting places for the reader's own creativity. Maybe that's why she's a little mysterious.

This is a book that any artist or writer should have - a great idea resource with useful practical techniques.

(By the way, this is a great book to have around for kids who do a lot of projects for school. The techniques in this book could turn any dull assignment into something really special.)

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