You're going to think we're obsessed with pop-up books here in our peaceful home in the country. We're not. We'll, I do get slightly carried away with Vojtěch Kubašta, but since I only have two of his masterpieces, and these were only acquired in the past month or so, I don't think that that translates into a fully fledged obsession quite yet. Does it? Actually, my favourite pop-up master craftsman has to be Robert Sabuda. We gave Jemimah his The Wizard of Oz a couple of years back. That is one incredible paper engineering feat! Let me know if you'd like to have a look through it some time.
Gutenberg's Gift by Nancy Willard and illustrated by Bryan Leister was one of my finds from The Known World Bookshop that day in Ballarat. Remember?
The book relates, in rhyme, how Johannes Gutenberg contributed to the printing process by perfecting movable type and creating a Bible for his wife, Anna. That's Anna and Johannes above standing and looking in at the scribes copying the finely illuminated pages of a manuscript.
Here's Johannes carving Anna's name from blocks of wood.
And here's the printing press that he finally develops. His apprentice stands by as Johannes inspects the finished page.
On Christmas morn Anna finally receives her Bible.
The story is imaginary. Of Gutenberg the man we know little, not even his date of birth. In this story he has a wife, Anna, he is skilled in woodworking, and his Bible is produced within a single year. We don't know if this is the case. Certainly Anna is fictional.
This doesn't matter though. It certainly affected neither our enjoyment of the book nor its use as an adjunct to the real story as read in Virgil Hillyer's A Child's History of the World. We have enjoyed Gutenberg's Gift very much.
Children's author and poet Nancy Willard received the Newbery Medal in 1982 for her book A Visit to William Blake's Inn. Her words in Gutenberg's Gift are a delight to read aloud. The illustrations by Bryan Leister and the paper engineering by Bruce Foster are, as you have seen, exceptional.
Of course, like almost all the books I review on A Peaceful Day, Gutenberg's Gift is...yep, you guessed it...out of print. Abe has second-hand copies here though, and copies are available through Amazon here. Happy hunting!