Huge, extravagantly designed and detailed pop-up illustrations for 10 classic cautionary tales showcase a trio of uncommon talents.
Beatrice and Whatley collaborate seamlessly on the visuals, producing in traditional outdoor or rural settings a cast of realistic but broadly expressive animal figures. Many of these, particularly the wonderfully snarky-looking goose laying gold-foil eggs and the frantic, massive lion that lunges up at viewers through an entangling net as his spread opens, will elicit involuntary “Whoa”s of startled admiration. The fables, one per opening except for a miraculously un-crowded quintet gathered on the central spread, are paired to large central tableaux and smaller but only slightly less complex pop-ups in corner booklets. All are pithy versions of the usual Aesopian suspects written in a fluid, contemporary style (“You do indeed have a beautiful voice,” the fox assures the cheeseless crow, “but you don’t seem to have a brain!”) with some morals embedded and others laid out explicitly. Veteran paper engineer that he is, Moerbeek concocts ingeniously multilayered, interwoven constructions that are vulnerable to grabby little hands but, with careful supervision, sturdy enough to survive multiple shared readings.
Timeless wisdom, splendidly decked out. (Pop-up fables. 6-10)