New on my Bookshelf: Magic Books & Paper Toys

Esther K. Smith is the author of  “How to Make Books”, a wonderful book which I like to recommend for those who are just beginning to discover the world of bookmaking.

Last week now, I bought Smith’s second book “Magic Books & Paper Toys: Flip Books, E-Z Pop-Ups & Other Paper Playthings to Amaze & Delight”.  And this Saturday I found the time to play.

Already from the outside this book looks great to me. I like the green and blue of of the woodtype reprint. And the construction reflects cleverly what can be found inside: This book has two front covers, and can be opened either way. The image on the left shows the part that treats magic books. The other front cover has “toys” written in this wood type-ish look in green and blue, and “Paper Toys” is written in the big and fancy way like here on this cover the words “Magic Books”.When you want to look at the other half of the book, you turn it around and upside down, and begin to read normally.

Also from the inside everything looks inviting: Bright colors, eye-candy photos of beautiful books as examples for everything presented, and step-by-step instructions accompanied by sketches.

There is one complaint, though, that I have about the layout: For most of the instructions the individual steps to do, numbered and described in words, can be found on the right hand side of a spread, and then the corresponding sketches are on the same leaf of paper, on the left hand side of the next spread. Which makes you flip that page back and forth several times while trying to follow her instructions.  I suppose that her assumption is that there are those who prefer reading the text, and other who want to look at the pictures. For me this was really annoying. I want to read the text, and have a glance at the pictures for every single step.

The contents covered are broad. You find here the basic mechanisms for flexagons, pop-ups, some paper toys, and a variety of folded booklets, including among others the Origami Star Book, Flag Book (which she calls Accordion Flip-Flaps), and the Snake Book. It is aimed rather at the inexperienced paper gamer than at book binders.

It is a super book for those who want to look at one specific instructions. I found it a little tiresome to read it from cover to cover because some variants of the same idea are not so much presented as a variant but rather all over again. But probably this is just me being impatient.

I tried all the flexagons and Magic Wallet instructions this Saturday at least once (some were fun enough to try several times), and read thoroughly through the paper toys (and just a little quicker through the rest of the book). I am just a little bit disappointed to have found only the very classical mechanisms (Magic Wallet, Jakob’s Ladder, Magic Wallet, and Swiss Cross are the only mechanisms presented). I would have hoped for a really new and fresh idea. But despite this, I had a wonderful Saturday filled with gluing, cutting and folding paper.

And I do not regret buying this book. I had a fun weekend, and my bookshelf would look a bit duller without it.

Plus now I am definitely hooked to flexagons. I browsed the web for them (and found a lot of interesting links, just to give one example, check this one), and already ordered another book about flexagons. This is probably not the last time you heart me talking about them. Initially I made a video to show off the results of this busy Saturday. But then M. found the following video for me. Admittedly it is only loosely connected to the topic addressed in this post. But it is fun to look at. – Have a nice weekend!