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Dig It, Build It!

Illustrated by Christyan Fox

Welcome to the building site!
The work has just begun,
So grab yourself a hard hat
And come and join the fun.

Help Cat and Dog with the digging, dumping, moving, mixing and lifting. With a bouncy rhyming text and a sturdy pop-up on every spread, this busy book is perfect for little builders everywhere.

Featuring five fabulous
pop-up construction vehicles!


UK Hardcover • ISBN-10: 1405088648 • ISBN-13: 9781405088640

Back Pack Books

US Hardcover • ISBN-10: 0760786291 • ISBN-13: 9780760786291

(US edition available exclusively through Barnes & Noble Stores)

Click here for details of foreign language editions


However you may be able to order a remaindered
or second-hand copy through amazon by using
the sales links opposite.

Move you pointer from side to side over the arrow bars to turn the model around!
(You may have to wait a moment, while hidden images are loaded, before the arrow bars start to work)

Illustrations © 2006 Christyan Fox. Reproduced by permission of Macmillan Children's Books,

After taking ten years to get off the ground, my first pop-up vehicle book, ZOOM!, looked like it was going to do well, so before that book was published, Macmillan  asked me if I could produce a follow up.  They were keen to continue the vehicle theme of the first book and so we settled on construction vehicles.

Part of the appeal of the first book was the different locations Christyan Fox, the illustrator, had shown as a backdrop for each model.  I’d decided that this book would be set at a single location – a building site - but the backdrop would change as the building went up.  So, the five vehicles featured in the book - an excavator, a dumper truck, a concrete mixer, a forklift and a crane – were chosen because they were used at different stages of the construction process (something I was familiar with, having worked as an architect).

The five prototype models for the book.  I used some of Christyan’s Cat and Dog character drawings from the first book to indicate the position of the characters.

Although the models in this book are slightly more complex than those in ZOOM!, I was able to complete the design stage of the paper-engineering relatively quickly thanks to a newly acquired vinyl-cutting machine.  These machines are usually used by sign-writers to cut the self-adhesive vinyl outlines for street and shop signs.  However I use mine to cut card.  The machine works in a similar way to a pen plotter, except that a tiny knife blade replaces the pen.  I’ve had a special blunt creasing blade made for my machine, so that it can also be used to score the creases (for folding the pop-ups) into the card.  I’ve always designed my pop-ups on a computer, but in the past I’ve had to print out the designs and then cut and score them carefully by hand. For a book like this, it’s not unusual for me to make as many as ten prototypes of each model before arriving at a final design - so that’s a lot of cutting of scoring.  As well as being very dull and time-consuming, the constant pressure I had to apply to the scalpel or scoring tool often resulted in painful strains in my hand, which meant that I sometimes had to stop work until the following day.  However, for this book, I used the vinyl-cutter to score and cut the pop-up outlines directly from my Mac, which literally doubled my work rate. 

It was only when I had finished the paper-engineering that I started to think about the text, which went through several rewrites and took a surprisingly long time to get right, given how short it is.

The book’s editor, Emma Harris and I batted drafts of the text backwards and forwards for several months trying to come up with something we were both happy with.  At one stage I drew up the following list of ingredients that we felt the text of each spread needed to include:

  • It needed to convey the progress of the building.
  • It needed to include some information about the pop-up vehicle.
  • It needed to include some appropriate language (relating to the vehicle or building process) without being too technical.
  • It needed to include vehicle sounds (as had the first book)
  • It needed to rhyme and scan well.

The problem was that, being a preschool book, we did not want to have too much text on each spread, so we set the limit at two rhyming couplets. However, after several attempts, it became clear that it wasn’t possible to incorporate so many ingredients into so few words and still end up with an appealing preschool text. So the vehicle sounds were dropped and I was finally able to come up with a suitable text.

One of Christyan’s early illustration ideas had gorillas as builders.

Meanwhile Christyan Fox had begun work on his lively illustrations using the cutting outlines I’d drawn for the prototype models.  As with ZOOM!, Christyan has populated the book’s spreads with a host of appealing animal characters including penguin architects, tiger bricklayers and a concrete mixer crewed by crocodiles.  And if you look carefully, you will see that the bee and the stowaway mouse from ZOOM! are also present on each spread.

The text does not say what is being built in the book, so Christyan decided that a rewarding end product would be “Ice Cream World”, a fabulous shopping and visitor attraction, which appears to have a water wheel powered by strawberry ice cream.

Hardcover ISBN
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Al Cantiere
Arlette Remondi
Emme Edizioni
Spanish (Castillian)
Gato y Perro en las obras
Teresa Tellechea
Ediciones SM