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Thomas & Friends: Thomas' Big Pop-Up Journey Hardcover – 1 Sep 2016
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About the Author
After almost 20 years of experience in paper engineering and pop-up books Corina has also worked with many leading authors and illustrators, such as Oliver Jeffers and Lauren Child, to create best-selling pop-up versions of their picture books. Corina is noted for her ability to bring the narrative alive through dynamic yet economical paper engineering. Corina studied Graphic Design at Central St Martins School of Art, and then completed a Masters in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art, where she further developed her three-dimensional work. She has since lectured at many colleges including returning to Central St Martins as a visiting tutor. Corina lives near Lewes in East Sussex and is represented by Caroline Walsh at
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The pictures and words tell the story of Thomas’ journey to the seaside, just like a book would, but because of the fold-out layout you can see the whole journey rather like an illustrated map, which kids will love. The pop-ups are structures such as a crane, water-tower, lighthouse and windmill. There are also several figures and models – these are cardboard cut-outs with feet you fold out to stand them up. These allow the child to use their imagination to add detail to the journey.
Hopefully I’ve made it clear that this is a playmat to play with, rather than one to play on.
The description says “3 years and up”, but I’m not sure how long it would last in the hands of our very active three-year old grandson – it’s possibly better for at least a 4 year old. It wouldn’t stand much rough treatment, so it might be the sort of thing you bring out only occasionally (a treat for rainy days), and as you can store it in the “book cover” it would be easy to hide it away most of the time (out of sight, out of mind – if you’re lucky).
Good value for £15.
Seven familiar Thomas characters (Thomas, Annie, Percy, Toby, Harold, James and a very tiny Fat Controller) are supplied. The characters are printed on two sides and a simple fold at the base allows them to stand up. I’ve uploaded a couple of pictures so you can get an idea how it works. My 4 year old really liked it, but I did have to keep telling him to be gentle! I’m not comfortable leaving it out in the playroom, so I make sure it’s put away in a cupboard after we’ve played with it.
It is beautifully executed too. Each ‘page’ has its section of track and a little pop-up building, then the book unfolds to create a single, long track with those buildings all along it. There are some lovely touches, like the level crossing with working barriers and a little windmill where the blades go round. The pop-up structures are, obviously, a little flimsy and will need to be treated with care (something that doesn’t align with the age group this is targeting), but the rest of the book is more solid than I was expecting, with very solid cardboard and fairly tough joints.
Actually, I keep saying ‘book’, but the track is actually just folded up into a book shaped box. The only resemblance to a book is the fact that the mat folds in such a way as to produce pages. You can’t really turn the pages while the mat is in the box and it can be a little floppy when out of it. The whole thing is actually an ’S’ shaped grid of squares, with three rows of squares joined at the ends to form the ’S’.
I was a little disappointed that there weren’t that many engines supplied, but in the end there are largely enough to play with. There’s Thomas and Annie (no Clarabel), Percy, James, Toby, the Fat Controller and Harold. Each is beautifully printed on both sides and can be folded to ‘stand’ (not really stand, at least not on their wheels) or played with flat. They live in a little envelope stuck inside the front cover of the box/book.
There’s ample stuff on the track to fuel a little boy’s or girl’s imagination and it can be taken anywhere. Despite the inherent frailty, I just love this ‘book’ and so does our son. Hopefully other publishers will copy the format with cars, emergency vehicles, construction vehicles and boats - I’m sure we’d get them all in the end if they did.
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