When I first bought The Wheels on the Bus (1990) by Paul Zelinsky, I was amazed at the creativity and paper engineering. Of course the wheels on the bus go round and round but that is only the beginning. The bus driver gestures. The riders go bumpety-bump. The babies cry. So much action. Admittedly the book will only survive about 3.5 readings with a child who insists on operating all the tabs. But, by providing a little guidance to the child and taking the gracious view of the purpose of books, one can have a very nice experience with the book.
And then came Zelinsky’s Knick Knack Paddywhack! I have never seen such elaborate and creative paper engineering! There are the expected flaps in abundance. But try to imagine a bee keeper dancing with a “5.” (“He played knick-knack on my hive.”) Can you picture 13 separate rolling actions (“These old men came rolling home.”) with the pull of one tab? Can you imagine ten separate orchestral gestures with the operation of just one tab?
My favorite is also the most delicate. When this old man played seven and launched into heaven, try to picture father time riding a “7” through the tree and into the sky diminishing in size as he goes. Amazing!
Clearly this is not the book to throw into the ward nursery. Unsupervised, it would only survive about 1 child viewing. But if you have a child with a lively imagination who is willing to enjoy a book with parental supervision, you should buy a copy of this book. In fact maybe you should buy two and keep one where it can enliven dozens of adult viewings.
Paul O. Zellinsky (2002). Knick-Knack Paddywhack! A moving Parts Book. New York: Dutton Children’s Books.