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How to turn poems, lyrics, & folklore into salable children's books using humor or proverbs

How to Turn Poems, Lyrics, & Folklore Into Salable Children's Books: Using Humor or Proverbs - Anne Hart

Making Pop-Up Memoirs Gift Books


If you’re older and need a workout session for your brain, try making pop up books as gifts. It’s like paper folding. I teach senior citizens how to make life story memoirs gift books and/or record with camcorder and save on a DVD life story skits, plays, and pop-up books. Here’s how to make paper pop up books. It’s like origami, and great for helping your memory and mind stay younger.


Pop-up books can be made for grown-ups, using color copies of almost any item produced on heavy paper of photographs or other art work. Pop-ups for children also can be made, including greeting card pop-ups to promote the book or rotating disks or leaves and pop-ups set in the center of the book. Three-dimensional folded paper glued into a book present the element of surprise. Make keepsake albums or gift memoirs books.

Ideas for pop-ups include baby and wedding photos or miniature awards and diplomas. Learn what questions to ask and how to interview people for the significant moments in their life stories, and then write, publish, and bind by hand exquisitely-crafted personal gift books.


When you craft a book entirely by hand and bind it in fine materials also by hand, being careful to use acid-free paper, you might also wish to illustrate the book yourself. Let’s propose you’re writing a children’s pop-up book about a child who is a relative. You’re going to bind the book yourself, taking lessons from the many courses in hand book-binding already on the Internet. Here’s how to illustrate the book.


If you write a children's book about your child or grandchild, try illustrating your children's book yourself on silk, coarse linen, or percale. You can even use a linen handkerchief or scarf. Frequently your artwork is wrapped around a drum, that is always curved, and illustration board won't wrap around a drum without bending and cracking.


            If you decide to publish a non-fiction children's book, which will have less chance of losing in competition for entertainment against the best-selling fiction books, focus on a how-to book giving children of middle grades or their parents in picture books, information to read to children or instruction for children in how to build or do something they can't find quickly online or in a library, such as how to build or make something that children cherish.


            To illustrate on fabric, mount the fabric on illustration board when you put your final drawing on fabric. Silk is preferred for a final draft. The artwork gets scanned into a computer, but has to roll around on a curved surface, a drum in order to be scanned to make a children's book. That's how most publishers work. If you’re having the book privately printed, find out the size of the drum so you can adjust or reduce the fabric before it gets scanned and the size adjusted once more.


            The top layer of the art to be scanned sometimes is set up to be peeled off. Take a sheet of illustration board and mount silk on it, or coarse linen. Sometimes illustration board is too stiff when you cover it with fabric, and it won't peel right. So use this method. Get a sheet of Mylar or matte plastic. This is a type of film. Mount very fine white silk with water mixed with acrylic matte medium. I learned this method from the writings of the late Barbara Cooney, author and illustrator of more than 100 children's books and winner of the Caldecott medals and the American Book Award.


            Cooney loved to mount the fine white silk with water and acrylic matte medium and then let it dry. The next step is to take a roller and put on a layer of diluted acrylic gesso. Then let that dry.


            Sand the surface using very fine garnet paper. Cooney liked to repeat the second and third step until two to four layers of gesso were built up. What you want to get is a flexible fabric full of your illustration. Cooney described the result as an "egg-shell texture." She used titanium white in her acrylic paintings. Your color will be titanium white also.


            Not many children's book writers know this technique of painted on mounted silk when they illustrate children's books, and publishers will be impressed with the professional technique, but in case no publisher can be found, you have an illustration for your children's book that will wrap around that drum, curving without cracking. Keep on writing and illustrating.


            If color is too expensive for your budget, stick to black and white, and let the children color your book as they read or are read to from the text. Keep the text about one paragraph per page for a preschool book that will be read to children, and increase text for older children or illustrated gift books. When you make only one or two copies of a book that is entirely hand-made, you can do everything yourself or bring your materials to a printer.


To make more copies, scan into your personal computer each step of your book. Scan photos and art work at least at 300 dpi and large enough, at least 6 by 9 inches. Save text documents, for example as a Microsoft Word document. (Or use the equivalent in any other software word processing application.) Text size usually is letter size, which is 8 ½ by 11 inches. That way you can save your book to a CD or DVD with one file for photos and another for text.


Additionally, you can save a copy of your entire book in another file, organized with the text and photos interspersed the way you want to lay out the entire manuscript. The CD or DVD can be brought to most printers for additional copies of the book. Finally, you can bind the book in exquisite materials by hand using paper and covers that resist acid and oxidation when the book is handed to the next generation. Personal gift books also can be pop-up books for children or grown-ups using themes of significant events and experiences that are meant to me remembered and discussed.


Concrete Pop-Up Books


            There are two kinds of pop-up books, concrete paper and glue that you can fold with your hands and abstract pop-up shapes saved in a computer file or on a disc. Let’s begin with making a simple concrete pop-up that is glued into a book. When the book is opened to a particular page, the folded paper opens suddenly as if it is on springs. A pop-up inserted in a memoirs gift book can be made from a paper-cut illustration or drawing.


Supplies Needed for Simple Paper Pop-Ups


            You’ll need a template for scoring and cutting. You can make a template by scoring art work. Or have a printer make the template for you. If your printer isn’t able to make a template, ask your local university to recommend an engineering or art student who has studied three dimensional art, origami, or making pop-ups. A template may be made from a photograph that is reduced to the size you want and copied on a color copier. The following are the items to be assembled before beginning.



Water colors or colorful inks

White glue that dries transparent

Paper clips

Straight edge or ruler


            After you’ve made your illustration or had a photo color-copied to heavy paper, use the round edge of a paper clip to score little broken dots or lines so that the paper will fold along those lines you have scored. Don’t cut the scored lines. Only cut the solid lines.


Templates are labeled with letters of the alphabet such as A, B, C, and D. Usually templates follow a pattern such as beginning with A, which is scored and folded back. Then you fold along the dotted scored lines but not the solid lines. You’d follow through folding scored sides C and D forward. Then you’d glue the back side of the first panel to the back side of the second panel.


The panels would be numbered in linear order such as panel 1 and panel 2. You’d follow step-by-step in the order of the numbers or letters. Then you’d repeat for panels 3 and 4. So you’d begin logically with number 1 and end with number 4. You’d start with scored side A and end with scored side D. The folds would add up to a four-sided square. If you had a picture that folded into a pop-up with more or less sides, such as a triangle or an odd shape, you’d follow the numbers on your template.


Before you start to make a pop-up, the first step would be to create a template that you could score. The folds would be made on the scored lines and not on the solid lines. Your last step would be to glue your shape to the V fold so that your pop-up takes the shape you want before you glue it into your memoirs book as a centerfold pop-up or in some other spot. Before you begin, look at some instructional books on making pop-ups. They’re on the Web.


A pop-up photo of a couple dressed as bride and groom works well. The photo would be brought to a color copier and printed out on the type of paper that makes the best pop-ups. A history and virtual tour of pop-up books is at the University of North Texas Web site: http://www.library.unt.edu/rarebooks/exhibits/popup2/introduction.htm. Some pop-up books in the past contained revolving discs called ‘volvelles.’ You don’t have to use photos. You can use art work or memorabilia to pop up, if the type of paper is suitable.


Use “turn up” or “lift the flap” mechanisms as pop ups in your gift book. The same pop-up copied can also be put in greeting cards to promote your book. Separate leaves of paper cut to different sizes. Each leaf would contain different information. The leaves can be hinged together and attached to a page. This works great with memorabilia.


The reader would be able to unfold multiple depths of a picture, such as a photo cut-out wearing different costumes or clothing styles. Examples would be the bridal gown, dressed for travel, at the beach, or in ethnic traditional clothing.


Until the early 19th century, movable books were created for adults, and not for children. One example would be learning anatomy at school from different leaves showing bones or muscles. For further information, see the following books:


Haining, Peter. Movable Books: An Illustrated History. London: New English Library, 1979.

Koskelin, Susan. "The Evolution of Movable Books from the Late Thirteenth Century to the Late Twentieth." Graduate school paper, U of North Texas, 1996.

Lindberg, Sten G. "Mobiles in Books: Volvelles, Inserts, Pyramids, Divinations, and Children's Games." Trans. Willian S. Mitchell. The Private Library 3rd series 2.2 (1979) : 49-82.

Montanaro, Ann R. Pop-up and Movable Books: A Bibliography. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1993.


What’s the Best Way to Learn How to Make Pop-Up Books and Greeting Cards?


Buy several pop-up books and make a list of how these books are placed together. Then take them apart. Use your camcorder to record yourself taking the book apart. It will be easier to put them back together when you have a visual recording of what the book looked like before and during each step of the way as the book is taken apart. Making simple pop-ups for books and greeting cards is easy to learn and helps develop the use of the right hemisphere of your brain through practice.


Make a template or buy templates to make pop-up books from craft, hobby, and book-binding supplies do-it-yourself stores. Several good book binding supplies stores are online. Search your Internet engine, for example Google at http://www.google.com with the key words “book binding supplies.”


A professor of bookbinding at the Escola d'Arts i Oficis in Barcelona wrote an excellent how-to book titled, The Complete Book of Bookbinding by Josep Cambras. The book provides precise, systematic techniques with plenty of excellent illustrations. Other books include the following:

·                Hand Bookbinding: A Manual of Instruction by Aldren A. Watson

·                The Craft of Bookbinding by Manly Banister

·                More Making Books by Hand: Exploring Miniature Books, Alternative  Structures, and Found Objects by Peter Thomas

·                The British Library Guide to Bookbinding: History and Techniques (British Library Guides) by P. J. M. Marks

·                Book Arts: Beautiful Bindings for Handmade Books by Mary Kaye Seckler


What’s complicated about crafting pop-up books is making gift books with moving parts. To learn how to do that, you need to talk to a paper engineer or paper folding specialist. Or take a course in making pop-up books with moving parts.

One excellent specialist in this field is paper engineer, Robert Sabuda. See his Web site at: http://www.robertsabuda.com/. Click on How to Make Pop-Ups at: http://www.robertsabuda.com/popupbib.html.


Pop-Up Tutorials Online and Books on Making Pop-Ups


Web-based step-by-step instruction, workshop information, and a bibliography on making pop-up books are at the pop-up books author, Joan Irving’s site at: http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey/. Also other excellent bibliographies on making pop-up books include the following: Johnson, Paul. Pop-up Paper Engineering. Cross-curricular Activities in Design Technology, English and Art. The Falmer Press, 1992.


              Beginners may enjoy the following books: Aotsu, Yoku. How to Make Pop-up Pictures! Dai-Nippon, 1993; Campbell, Jeanette R. Pop-up Animals and More! Evan-Moor, 1989; Valenta, Barbara. Pop-O-Mania. Dial Books. 1997.


Abstract Pop-Up Books


Play with Digital Pop-Up Cubes before You Fold Paper Pop-Ups


            For digital pop-ups, try a pop-up cube that will appear on your computer as you create stories that give the reader a choice to move in several directions. This interactive choice is called writing in branching narratives.

Picture a cube or a pop-up book that snaps into three dimensions by extending the lines along the corner. Three-dimensional writing is in circular time with branching narratives ending in leaf nodes like the curving tree of life. Think of your story as a stack of cards—a metaphor used by many authoring tools.


1.         Take a deck of blank cards and divide it into thirds—one for each part of your story. On each card, write a different beginning, middle, or ending for each part of the story.


2.         Shuffle the each pile of cards so the reader can choose multiple pathways to interact within the story. Instead of linear time, you now have a three-dimensional parallel structure that goes back and forth like a time-travel novel.

3.         Let the reader choose a different path, or return to the beginning to start a different story.


The most important rule to remember when designing an interactive story is that there are no rules. Start with a diagram and define the widest categories. Then, refine the story diagram, getting more specific as you go deeper into each story level.


Interactive writing uses metaphorical thinking to stimulate creative response. The interactive writer becomes a master of flexibility and a weaver of ideas, pictures, and sounds.


Practice Making Pop-Ups on Your Computer


Have a charming photo of a person in the book actually pop out in the middle of the book or at a spot where that person’s most important experience is mentioned. Before you design and cut out any folding pop-up art on paper, first make a verbal rather than a visual mock pop-up in your computer. A verbal pop-up is abstract. It’s all about writing one page in three dimensions. You have to think in three dimensions.


Your topic is “Writers wear many hats.” Write in of branching narratives. People who do this for a living are called non-linear editors.


            A single script may incorporate several frameworks, including streaming audio narration, animation with voice-over, and montage. Other often-used frameworks—including comedy and drama—can be applied to new media presentations, as well.


            The frameworks may vary from one category of facts or segment of the story to the next. In a documentary-style biography, you might include simple animation, backlit negatives, artwork, photos, or a narration to bridge the transitions.

The completed project should flow like one piece of cloth with no seams or hanging threads—like liquid, visual music. Using a varied selection of frameworks will help keep the attention of the audience and give the writer more options to set up a mighty conclusion. Be sure the frameworks don't overpower the information with too vivid an impact.

You want the readers to remember the life story highlights derived from listener.


Interactive gift books on computer discs (CDs or DVDs) can be true life stories (or fiction). They use a parallel story structure. This means readers can make several choices to change the events leading to different outcomes at different times. You can adapt an event to an interactive experience. This lets the audience enter feedback or gives a choice of how the story moves or ends.


Writing in Caricature


Writing in caricature is the essence of great dialogue writing. No one did it better than William Shakespeare, who was a master of writing dialogue in caricature. As your audience experiences the script during its performance, your writing will leap from two-dimensional text to the three-dimensional world of your audience's imagination.

As you write this way, fit your dialogue into imaginary dialogue bubbles above the heads of your characters. They begin to vibrate with charisma. The goal is to give each character the ability to influence, charm, inspire, motivate, and help the audience feel important.


Using Humor

The more important you make the audience feel, the better chance humor has of conveying a message of value. You may use carefully chosen humor with serious topics to hold the attention of the audience and to prevent the material from become too dry, abstract, or technical. Humor works well when it reveals pitfalls to be avoided. Your ability to make an audience laugh will increase the marketability of your work.


Using Drama

Drama is one of the best frameworks to use. To incorporate drama into a non-fiction memoirs gift book, include an experience with subplots framed like those in one of the fiction genres such as romantic comedy, adventure, mystery, or suspense.

Ask how the inner mechanisms work. Are facts readily available? 

Or does the book allow the leading character or narrator to share only one experience as an interlude of inserted drama? Show contrasts in a memoirs book between the frameworks of dramatization, re-enactments, and demonstration. Contrasts are what makes a personal gift book of memoirs ‘alive’ rather than ‘flat’ in tone, texture, and mood.


If you can give your son or daughter only one gift, let it be enthusiasm.” __ Bruce Barton