The Odyssey: A Pop-Up Book by Sam Ita

Now for something different! We just love this phenomenal new pop-up book retelling Homer’s classic epic by the talented Sam Ita. The Odyssey is a read for kids a bit older but my girls are enthralled by the pop-ups for the moment. Ita’s previous pop-up books are: 20,000 Leagues Under the SeaMoby-Dick; and Frankenstein. His amazing illustrations and papercraft transport readers to the heart of Odysseus’s decade-long adventure, from a gatefold that brings you inside the mythical Trojan Horse to quite incredible movable oars on Odysseus’s boat and a pull-tab in the Circe sequence that magically transforms a man into a pig. Pop-up books have come so far as an art form. I am in awe.

And we caught up with Sam at Books of Wonder the other day and here is my mini-interview with him:

Jeanne: What sort of background did you have that prepared you for the world of pop-up books? 
Sam:I studied graphic design in art school, which taught me about illustration, sculpture, design software, etc. Specifically about making pop-up books, I learned mostly on the job, and from other paper engineers. I’ve also learned a lot about working with paper from origami. 
Jeanne: What was your inspiration for this book?
Sam: It was my publisher’s idea. At first, I was very resistant to it. Pop-up books are good for telling simple, concise stories. The Odyssey is complex and sprawling.
For research, I spent a week in Greece visiting ruins and museums. When I came back, I moved to an apartment near Astoria. I ate a lot of Greek food. Family is a central theme in The Odyssey. I became a father around the time I was finishing the book, which also helped me connect to the story. Reading Eric Shanower’s comic about the Trojan war, Age of Bronze, was another major inspiration. After a few month of struggling, the book started coming together.
Jeanne: What is your next project?
Sam: As it stands right now, my next project will be a pop-up book about New York City.