Today is children’s book author and illustrator, Tomie dePaola’s birthday. I remember well when my mother brought home Strega Nona, Oliver Button Is a Sissy and other fantastic books by Mr. dePaola. I was especially fond of Giorgio’s Village, and The First Christmas. Inside the pages of these magical pop-up books the characters seemed to come alive. Giorgio’s Village, a seemingly average place, felt enchanted when laundry lines were strung out, courtyards swept, and coins were chucked into wishing wells- all by my hand. I would carefully pull each tab, turn dials and open windows over and over again, always mystified by the moving paper parts. In The First Christmas, mules move silently through town, angels descend from the heavens, and a star guides three wise men to Bethlehem in the most stunning way. It was on this page I would linger. Examining the star burst mechanics. Was it on a wheel? How was it connected? The effect was always a thrill; a fluid motion, a burst of color. Simple.
Using a light box, I traced the shape of the background flaps onto my painting and then carefully cut the shapes with an X-Acto knife. Then I traced, and cut the wheel out from the starburst painting. The pull-tab on the wheel is drawn at twice the necessary length, so that you can fold it in half, glue it down and have a stronger pull-tab.
Place the wheel behind the painted background and fold the pieces into each other; each wing of the wheel tucking under the flaps of the background. The two bumpers on the wheel will slip behind the background page, while the pull-tab will remain visible. The two center tabs on the background will fold up and back to create a space to glue your center painting on (mine is a moon, in the book, Tomie’s is a star.) This acts as the fulcrum piece and will secure the wheel in place when you pull the tab and expose the moon burst below.
Ta-DA!!! Including painting and drying time, this is a 2-day project. Use care when cutting out your pieces, and I would recommend using blank watercolor paper to practice on before cutting up your painting.