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A Serious Collection of Fun Books: The Postwar Heyday


The Postwar Heyday

Timeline: 1942 - 1950s

Imitation and Repetition

cartoon deer with star on her forehead

Julian Wehr's success leads publishers to hire illustrators and put forward scores of movable books every year, with many Christmas-themed books appearing during the holidays. The result is a decline in the quality and ingenuity of movable illustration. With a market saturated, the novelty of movable books fades and sales drop. 

Influence and Originality

cartoon travel bus at a tourist stop

Wehr's success also establishes a favorable climate for other illustrators to engineer and market movable books. Thus, Geraldine Clyne creates her popular "Jolly Jump-Up" series and George Zaffo fashions equally popular movable pages for a number of children's books.


airplane in the blue sky


From the end of World War II to the early 1950s, there was an explosion of pop-up and movable book publishing. Undoubtedly, the “baby boom” generated demand and, in response, publishing firms encouraged numerous authors, illustrators, and paper engineers to generate a steady supply of movable books. Along with Julian Wehr, Geraldine Clyne, George Zaffo, and Marion Merrill were prominent illustrator-paper engineers. Zaffo was so well known that some of the books he animated had the words “Action by Zaffo” on the cover. Clyne enjoyed a reputation as the creator of her “Jolly Jump-Up” family. And an untold number of movable books put forward at the time were illustrated and animated by unknown hands. Yet the enormous success of movable books led to a saturated market and a decline in popularity. By the late 1950s, pop-up and similar editions continued to be published, but demand had subsided and publishing companies looked to other kinds of children’s books.

The animated Pinocchio, 1945
Marion Merrill

The test flight of Sky Robin, 1946
Doris Garn, George J, Zaffo 

3 characters on a paddle boat

Peter on the paddle boat, 1946
Doris Garn, George J. Zaffo