Written by Weixin Jin
Peter and Wendy see the New York World’s Fair in Pop-up Action Pictures is a children’s book by Mary Pillsbury published in 1963 by Spertus Publishing Company. As an official 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair publication, this book extracts and highlights key attractions at the World’s Fair in five colorful, pop-up action pictures. Through the eyes of a set of of twins, Peter and Wendy, the book guides readers to visit prominent sites at the Fair, such as Dinoland, the Science Exhibit, the New York State Pavilion, the Unisphere, the Hong Kong Pavilion, the Swiss Sky Ride, the Monorail, the Electric Power and Light Pavilion and so on.
The World’s Fair of 1964-1965 was the second World’s Fair, held at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York, after the 1939-40 World’s Fair. The Fair ran for two six-month seasons, April 22 – October 18, 1964 and April 21 – October 17, 1965. Its theme, Peace Through Understanding, was symbolized by a 12-story, stainless-steel model of the earth entitled the Unisphere. On the book’s cover, two young people walk down the Unisphere, hand in hand. One reading the book astutely may find that the Unisphere was illustrated on each spread in different perspectives.
Similar to other official World’s Fair publications, like A Day at the New York World’s Fair with Peter and Wendy or A Visit to the New York World’s Fair with Peter and Wendy, this book engages with a new narrative by introducing a series of daily conversations between parents and their children. In addition, all the images are drawings, in color. By exploiting bold and brilliant colors as well as vibrant brushwork, illustrator Fred Ottenheimer also intended to evoke a true scene for the readers, who visited or expected to visit, during that time. While different from other World’s Fair literature resources, this version may be considered as an official souvenir book. It can open 360 degrees and lay completely flat or be three dimensional. The possibilities of exploring the scale of buildings and evoking a spectacle are two of the most important functions of pop-up books.
Weixin Jin is a graduate student in the Design History and Curatorial Studies program at Parsons / Cooper Hewitt and works in the Smithsonian Design Library. Jin is a researcher in the fields of Decorative Design and Museum Studies, and a lead author of Design Museum that was published in 2014.