Kids write books. They just don’t appear on Kindle.
And they couldn’t. They’re hand-wrought. Messy. One of a kind.
We took our nephew Jasper to a book-making class for children today at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum’s Design Center in Harlem. Jasper is a lefty — is that why he has a creative streak, or is it because he’s my nephew? Just asking.
The ever-patient instructor was an artist named Michele Brody, who is well known for producing site-specific installations, including many involving plants and water.
She likes to show the entire life cycle, she told me, including the decay and death of the plants.
But she’s also produced art volumes about tea and stained by tea, so she knows about putting together books from scratch. Today she introduced me to a novel concept, that of the bone folder.
The bone folder is a smooth ivory tool that allows you get a nice sharp crease in the paper you’re using to bind your book, and to smooth out any bubbles that might appear in the glueing process. How satisfying, sliding the tool along those bubbles.
The children in the class dove in with cardboard, markers and ribbons every which way. Siblings Aidan and Molly — “silly and active,” according to Jasper — did better than I did. I watched their creations materialize across the table.
Jasper’s book was crammed with action and surprises. If he could only write a single book in his life, this one would be enough, but of course he’s already written hundreds.
What did he like best about writing a book, I inquired.
The kid’s answer was immediate. The pop-ups, he said. He has always liked building pop-ups into his works. Architectural, three-dimensional, crazy blasts from another dimension.
Kindle just can’t accommodate construction-paper pop-ups. And that is why you will never be able to order Jasper Zimmerman’s The Spy in Summer from Amazon. It’s the story of a spy who steals the bad guy’s jewelry, then eats him — well, that last part is not actually in this volume, says the author, but it will be in the sequel.
That one will have pop-ups, too.