The Dragon & the Knight: A Pop-up Misadventure,by Robert Sabuda; Little Simon, $29.99, 22 pages, ages 5-up.
Master paper engineer Robert Sabuda has created another book sculpture for pop-up enthusiasts of all ages. In this volume of fractured fairytales, a brave (if slightly goofy) knight pursues a maligned and misunderstood dragon. The duo escape from their story and onto the pages of other fairytales, ranging from Aladdin to Cinderella. The escapeeswreak havoc on each tale they visit, while each page reveals a more complex and imaginative three-dimensional creation than the last. While there is text on each page, it’s not really here to be read. Rather, it demonstrates the ruckus caused by the intruders – fairytales are obscured by towering structures of fire-breathing dragons, and even some of the characters pop-up sheathed in outfits made of words. (See Cinderella’s dress and Aladdin’s flying carpet.) Sabuda paper art books makes stunning gifts, but they are delicate – with so many intricate folds and pleats, very young readers should be supervised, lest older readers wish to spend hours carefully refolding dragon tails and towers. This tour de force will make an excellent addition to any collection on paper engineering.
Twelve Dancing Unicorns, by Alissa Heyman, illustrated by Justin Gerard; Sterling Children’s Books, $14.95, 32 pages, ages 5-8. (September 2014)
Since its initial publication in 1812, The Grimm brothers’ classic fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, has inspired movies, musicals, as well as adaptations and numerous retellings. In Alissa Heyman’s debut picture book the dozen princesses are now glittering unicorns who manage to break free of their golden chains every night. The king offers a reward to the person capable of solving his pets’ mysterious nocturnal ramblings, and a plucky young villager takes up the challenge. Young readers familiar with the original will quickly pick up on the similarities, while children new to the tale will enjoy it just the same. Veteran illustrator (DreamWorks, Disney) Justin Gerard’s paintings set an enchanted mood – fairies and flowers appear illuminated from within, while the unicorns gallop right out of this glowing fantasy world. Tones of purple, blue and radiant gold are a perfect accompaniment to this magical tale.