Find out about
Safari Shapes'
companion book,
Creature Colours

Safari Shapes

A Pop-Up Shape Book

Meet a rhino in a rectangle, a snake around a square, and other animated animals in this fun-filled book for young explorers.


UK Hardcover • ISBN: 1862335834


Back Pack Books

US Hardcover • ISBN: 0760768641

(US edition available exclusively through Barnes & Noble Stores)


This book is also available in a Japanese edition entitled
どうぶつかたちあそび published by Dai Nippon. ISBN: 4499281148
Buy the Japanese Edition from


However you may be able to order a remaindered or second-hand
copy through amazon by using the sales links below.
Buy this book at amazon UK Buy at amazon US find your local bookshop


Move you pointer from side to side over the arrow bars to see how the pop-ups work!
(You may have to wait a moment, while hidden images are loaded, before the arrow bars start to work)

Illustrations © 2005 Jonathan Emmett. Reproduced by permission of Gullane Children's Books

Although most of my books are accepted for publication on a one-off basis, publishers occasionally feel that a book will be easier to market if it is part of a set.  In such cases the publisher may also commission a companion book (or books) that will be published simultaneously, as was the case with my earlier pop-ups, A Mouse inside the Marmalade and A Turtle in the Toilet.

Similarly, when Barnes and Noble decided to publish a US edition of my pop-up colour book, Creature Colours, it was on the condition that I created a companion book to go with it.

Fortunately, I already had an idea for a companion book, called Safari Shapes.

These 'thumbnails' represent my early ideas for the book's pop-ups. The red arrows indicate how the pop-up might move.

I had to take a slightly different approach to designing this second book, as both the UK and the US publishers wanted an indication of the book’s content before it was commissioned.  This meant preparing a set of ‘thumbnails’ - small preview images of each of the pop-ups (shown opposite).  Preparing thumbnails is a straightforward exercise for a picture book, where the illustrator can be reasonably confident that what they have outlined can be developed into finished artwork.  However it’s a little more difficult with animated pop-ups, since as well as the illustrated content you have to give some indication of how each pop-up moves and these movements might not always be achievable (in terms of the paper-engineering or budgetary constraints) as a finished design.

If you compare the thumbnails opposite with the pop-ups in the finished book you’ll see that most of the pop-ups ended up looking pretty much as I’d anticipated with the exception of the snake and the bear.  The movements indicated on the thumbnails for both these pop-ups (the snake darts it’s head and the bears eyes move from either side) were achievable but once I’d made prototypes, it became apparent that neither movement was sufficiently dramatic or conspicuous.  So in the final designs the snake appears to writhe around the square (my favourite pop-up in the book), while the bear plays peek-a-boo with his paws.

If you’ve read my author comments for Creature Colours, you will know that, despite its simplicity, a lot of thought went into it.  And I tried to apply the same approach to Safari Shapes.

Obviously the key principle with a shape book, should be that the shapes are easy to identify.  In this book, each shape is represented as a cut out profile - either a solid object or a hole cut into a frame (never a printed surface) – that fills the whole spread.  Contrasting colours were chosen for shape and the page surrounding it so that the shape was easily distinguishable and a heavy black line surrounds the shape for extra emphasis.

As with Creature Colours, the choice of animals for the book was constrained by the need for rhyme and alliteration in the text – plus they needed to be recognisable to a pre-school child.  With these constraints, finding two short snappy couplets for the text was a bit of a challenge.  None of the shape names formed satisfactory rhymes with each other so I had to rhyme ‘square’ with ‘bear’ for the first couplet.  It was difficult to find an equally straightforward rhyme for the second couplet so I eventually settled on the less than obvious pairing of ‘star’ with ‘bizarre’ since it presented an interesting opportunity.  I always try to end a pop-up book on an impressive pop-up that incorporates some sort of a surprise element, to give the book a satisfying ending.  The first seven pop-ups in this book all feature named geometrical shapes.  The final pop-up “And something quite bizarre” makes the point that there are also an infinite number of nameless abstract shapes.

This book is for the children of the
Merry Go Round Nursery