Rock Paper Scissors Book

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.

Michele Brody


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.

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.

the spy in summer


That one will have pop-ups, too.



Filed under Art, Culture, Fiction, Jean Zimmerman, Publishing, Writers, Writing

2 responses to “Rock Paper Scissors Book

  1. Lori

    Such fun! I used to let my kids go on paper, scissors, glue, glitter, crayons and markers all the time. I kept what I could of their works, after they had been displayed on the ‘fridge for a week or so. Working with children is the best job ever!


    OOHHhhohooohhhooHH… Jasper definitely has some of your genes…. perhaps the ones that sometimes crave crime and gore. And pop-ups. I adore them and have gifted a few really great ones… intricate paper sculptures… should keep some for myself… the DollHouse one… or make some. I do have one of Martha Stewart’s paper-creasers and I even used it last evening as I folded four copies of the little list: MAJOR **HISTORICAL** EVENTS of 1953. (I think it pleased your parents!)

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