POP STOP: While complaining about my son's fondness for collecting--shells, sticks, plastic milk tops, scraps of metal--my sister pointed to my rubber band ball and screamed, "Where do you think he gets it?"
I started as a Girl Scout intent on getting my collector's badge. My father, a smoker and traveling salesman, got me going on my matchbook collection. From his travels, I got covers from diners and Dew-Drop Inns, from motor courts and markets. Later I moved on to sweet things like thimbles and dolls. I just traded my tobacco tin collection for an old kitchen cupboard. This switching about is what separates me from the ranks of serious collectors.
People like James Sinski, for example. He's amassed some 1,600 movable and pop-up books over the last 21 years. Tucsonan Sinski, a retired mycologist, which has something to do with fungus, took the hint from a friend who bought him a pop-up book, saying, "Now this is a real book." Perhaps a comment on Sinski's just-completed hair and nail fungus book, which the friend had worked on.
To marvel at some of Sinski's collection, swing by the University of Arizona library where 240 books, all published in 1994, are on display. More pop-ups were published in the United States last year than ever before, Sinski says.
"There were a number of books that came out by religious publishers this year," says the not-particularly-religious collector. He says the four inspirational poetry books by Nelson Regency, including Consider the Lilies, have been popular among people who take part in a 12-step program. One even appeared on TV after someone sent it to O.J. Simpson. Don't let that stop you--they are charming books with some lovely illustrations and, Sinski says, "excellent paper engineering."
Other glorious examples include the terrific National Geographic book Weather. The popped-up earth with warm air currents circling around is a knockout. Look for miniature Peter Rabbit books Beatrix would have loved and many books for the teething crowd. Sam's Snack is a lunchbox of a book with gorgeous food illustrations. There are books with bugs and CDs, tiny figures and toads. There are duck eggs and pirate maps. One has a looking glass for Cinderella.
"Some people say that CD ROMS will take over because they are going to be interactive for children. I've heard both sides of the fence from people in the business," says Sinski. "But kids love to see that thing pop-up in front of them."
When he's not showing his collection, Sinski keeps them at his house, which, he says, "is creating some tension." Soon he'll start slowly feeding them to Special Collections at the UA library, where they'll all eventually be housed. Lucky us.
Pop-in and see the exhibit while you still have time, warriors.
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