Sabuda gives the usual relationship between story and picture a hefty tweak in this pop-up romp.
Though ostensibly a collection of such chestnuts as “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Cinderella,” the retold narratives really serve as visual backdrops to the main action, which involves a fire-breathing dragon and a marshmallow-loving knight ripping through the pages in a game of tag. Readers not in on the joke will naturally start at the beginning—and soon discover that the stories get harder and harder to read as pop-up props are glued over phrases, whole passages are repurposed as die-cut 3-D shapes, and the dragon’s fiery blasts knock the words themselves askew. Leaving “Puss In Boots” behind as just a scattering of burn holes and disconnected phrases, knight and dragon ultimately settle down (with one last surprise twist) for a peaceable marshmallow roast. Highlighted by a dragon head that lunges out at viewers with a gush of paper “flame” as the spread opens, the pop-ups are, predictably, gobsmacking assemblages that whirl into multilevel scenes or rear up to seemingly impossible heights. “Want to play again?” asks the knight. The invitation is well-nigh irresistible.
With Sabuda, it’s hard to set expectations too high or wide, but here he rides triumphantly roughshod over them anyway. (Pop-up picture book. 5-9)