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Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart Interview

Your books are really popular gift items. Do you think there’s a reason why pop-up books are suddenly everywhere?

Matthew: As well as the Kindle thing has done, I think people still want to hold paper. It’s kind of irritating, I have to say, I’ve gotten stories that you can only read on the computer, and there is something about holding the book and being able to turn the pages that’s . . .

Robert: Visceral. You know, when I read with Ryan, my godson, he wants to hold the book. He wants to sit in my lap. He wants to turn the pages. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with electronics in life. They have a place.

Matthew: Yeah. We love them.

Robert: But that’s why pop-ups I think have survived and are really being embraced because it’s magic without electricity. You know what I mean? When you turn the page of one of our books, you think, “Oh my god. How is that even possible?” and it’s between two boards that make a book and that’s a rare thing in our lives today to feel, very rare.

Do you two ever make each other things?

Matthew: I don’t have any time to make you anything.

Robert: I laugh, but he’s right. It’s consuming being here all day.

Matthew: Because we’re doing a lot of problem solving, thinking, if this doesn’t work, how am I going to fix it to get it to work this way? It’s not nearly as artsy as everyone likes to think.

Right, there is some serious engineering that goes into these books.

Robert: Architectural models have three dimensions. We’re really dealing with four dimensions because our stuff moves. So if you’re making orgami, you fold, fold, fold, and it’s a dragon or a tree or whatever, and you’re done. We have to deal with the extra element of its moving in an arc through space.

Do you have a favorite thing that you’ve gotten from your kid fans?

Matthew: Do you know what my favorite thing is, I think? I visited a school in New Jersey last year and they sang the pop-the-weasel song for me. But it went, “Do do do duh do doot do do. Pop, Matthew Reinhart!” And it was choreographed.

Robert: This teacher and her class made an actual pop-up book for us. When we get something like this, or they sing us a song, I feel like kids there are getting an appreciation for art, or just artists in general. We’re a little bit of a dying breed, artists, especially because of the computer. But these kids made this and they all got to see it and maybe one day, one of these kids will say, “I think I’m going to be an artist.” I mean, look at all the big hair this kid put in there! It’s great. Look at it. She put a barrette in!

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