Robert Sabuda was born Thomas Beach, in Pinckney, Michigan. The town was too small to have a bookstore, so his only source of new books was the Weekly Reader book-ordering program at school. He learned early that books are valuable.

He says his introduction to the world of art occurred when he ate a whole box of crayons, including the wrappers.

Robert studied art and design at the Pratt Institute in New York. During his senior year in college, he interned at Dial Books for Young Readers. Part of his job was opening all the original art packages that came into the office, which thrilled him, and set him on the path of figuring out what makes a good book. To help pay his tuition, he was also a photographer's assistant for Jewish weddings and bar mitzvahs, he read to the blind, and he illustrated Rambo coloring books, no kidding.

Robert was always entranced by pop-up books as a boy, and created his first one for his parents at age 8. I don't know the story on how he decided to do it for a living, or how he first got published - pop-ups are time-consuming and expensive to produce, and there's not much of a market for them. The artist, or "paper engineer" (what the New York Times calls Sabuda) has to be damn good to make it worthwhile for the publisher. Sabuda is damn good - he's a genius when it comes to interlocking bits of paper. Last Christmas, I gave his books to everybody.

Sabuda likes to buy other artists' pop-up books, for the purpose of ripping them up to better understand their mechanics. Each of his own books takes about two years, from concept to completion. They are assembled and glued in a factory in South America.

Robert lives on the upper west side of Manhattan, a five-minute walk from his studio. He lives with his two cats and his man. He says his biggest challenge is, on school visits, finding creative ways to answer the question "Where's your wife?"


The 12 Days of Christmas: A Pop-Up Celebration

ABC Disney: An Alphabet Pop-Up

Arthur and the Sword

The Blizzard's Robe

The Christmas Alphabet

Cookie Count: A Tasty Pop-Up

Earth Verses and Water Rhymes

Help the Animals of Africa

Help the Animals of Asia

Help the Animals of North America

Kwanzaa Celebration: Pop-Up Book

The Movable Mother Goose

The Paper Dragon

Saint Valentine

A Tree Place: And Other Poems

Tutankhamen's Gift

Young Naturalist's Handbook

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: A Commemorative Pop-up

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