I think we can all agree that the people who invented pop-up books may not actually have real, live children.
Most pop-up books carry a “not suitable for children under 36 months warning”, but there is always some eejit who gives it as a gift when the kid’s like, a year old. I’m not even sure kids have got the hang of page turning by 36 months, but hey, who am I to say. Perhaps my kids are unreasonably cack-handed, but even by the time they’d reached 5 ½ they’d still not mastered the art of pop-up books.
And there’s good reason for this. The pop-up parts are made of cardboard. Kids hands seem to be, on the whole, kind of wet. Clammy, if you like. This is another mystery; I put it down to body fluids. But is there an endless supply of body fluids that can emanate from them? I think not. Maybe they’re, um, what’s the word… ah yes, hygroscopic. Yes, like coffee or sugar or at the coast. As Wikipedia defines it: they have the ability to attract water molecules from the surrounding environment. Impressive, I’d say. If it wasn’t so bloody dodgy. Needless to say, cardboard plus clammy equals a soggy kind of wetboard - not very poppy-uppy at all. If, by the grace of God, the pop-up bits manage to stay dry, there is the maneuverability factor.
Now believe it or not, cardboard isn’t as slidey or poppy-uppy as one would think. Granted, it may have to do with who is charged with operating the moving bits. I now understand why moving parts on the whole, are made out of metal with a touch of grease. Some clever sciency type must have figured out that cardboard - surprise-surprise - does not cut the mustard when it comes to durability. Why the hell didn’t they didn’t tap into this pearl of wisdom when they invented pop-up books? And if metal isn’t an option for book construction (i.e. too heavy; could be used as a weapon) surely we could recycle all the rogue plastic in the world to make slick, maneuverable pop-up books instead of these iffy cardboard ones that stay intact for all of 12 hours? I mean I really thought that this was the era of seriously innovative shit.
And another thing. The title for every pop-up book may as well be “Don’t touch or it’ll break”. Because that is what you have to say every time you turn the page. It really becomes very boring.
And why is this pop-up book business such a ball ache to me? Because of the Oscar winning drama that ensues when the kid who broke it finds out that not only is the book broken, but also pretty much unfixable. Mostly, the offending, stuffed-up book gets tossed across the room (either by me or by the home-wrecker in question), which renders it (with any luck) completely unsalvageable. No wonder TV is such a hit with families. They’re much, much harder to break. Well, mostly.