A “Magic Action” Book
Copyright 1935, Whitman Publishing Co.
7 14 in. x 7 3/4 in 18.7 cm x 20 cm
Whitman Publishing was a subsidiary of the Western Publishing Company. The company existed from 1910 to 2001. Western Publishing is best known for creating Little Golden Books. However, the company used the Whitman subsidiary to produce a great number of children’s books from mysteries to science fiction and, of course pop-up and moveable books.
This example of a moveable book is based on a loveable character, Bunty. Bunty is a very young girl and the story follows her adventures throughout the day.
Bunty wakes up and greets her little puppy, Boo. The puppy isn’t supposed to be in the bed, But Bunty can’t resist. She tells Boo that he can come in the bead to hear a secret. Before she can tell her the secret, Nana scolds Bunty for allowing the dog in the bed.
A line on page 7 of the story demonstrates the gender stereotypes of the time when Bunty, commenting on her how her uncle, Perky, is a policeman. Bunty says “I wish I’d been a boy, then maybe I’d be a policeman too”.
Bunty goes outside to discover that a neighbor is throwing out all sorts of treasures including books, medicine bottles, a big coat and a traveling bag. Bunty collects the bag, fills it with medicine bottles and other bits, puts on the coat then begins walking. She falls and is assisted by her uncle Perky, the policeman.
Uncle Perky insists that Bunty return the items to the man and his junk heap. At that moment, they hear a grind organ in the distance and Bunty wants to give a penny to him, if he has a monkey.
They run to the organ grinder and find a knot of kids at the spectacle. Boo the dog causes a scene, chasing the monkey away from the organ man and becoming lost himself. Bunty runs home and is again scolded by Nana.
Bunty sneaks out of her bed in the night and finds Boo by a rock. The next day begins and Bunty is excited that she is going to a puppet show called Punch and Judy. The first full-page pop up shows the scene at the puppet show. It’s a brightly colored pop up with flat colors. The actual pop up is a glued-in insert on the page of the book. The insert is die-cut and has fold lines to assist in ensuring the pop up works correctly. Although the idea to insert a ready-made pop up is an interesting technique, the object is rudimentary, even for pop ups made in the 1930s.
Bunty goes home and creates her own puppet show with Boo. During her play time, she discovers that Baby Bounce, a baby who lives next door, is alone for a moment while her mother is across the street. Bunty takes the opportunity to fetch the baby and the infant child to a shady spot down the street to play. When the mother discovers the baby is missing, she panics and finds Nana.
Police and fire are summoned to find the baby to no avail. Eventually, uncle Perky discovers Bunty and the baby. He’s not pleased with Bunty, but returns the baby to a grateful mother.
This is the scene of the last full-page pop up. It too is an insert glued into the book. When the book is opened it shows uncle Perky bending down to talk to Bunty, who is holding Baby Bounce. The pages in the book to which the pop up is glued has a background of the neighborhood.
This is as much of a mass-market pop up as was available in the 1930s. The story is cute and accessible while the pop ups are interesting. The art on the inner pages is clean and well done. The art directors at Whitman had a wonderful ability to tell a story and be efficient in colors.
Although the book may not be a highly sought-after museum piece, it is a great example of children’s literature and book ephemera of the time. The wonderful glued-in pop-ups are in amazing and rare good condition.