Interactive Children's Classics
Note: updated January 2021 with new books in the series!
Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima are the graphic design duo affectionately known as MinaLima. Best known for their design work on the Harry Potter franchise, they have also committed to producing a 12 volume series of interactive children’s classics in conjunction with Harper Design, and seven of these volumes have been released to date. So far, all the books in this series have been truly stunning editions of classic tales, and they really are wonderful additions to any library, or as a beautiful keepsake gift. There are links to the different books below if you need them.
The books are hardbacks, bound in heavy textured paper with debossing and spot foiling, but no dust jacket. This isn’t particularly robust so you need to take some care removing them if they are in a tight bookcase. Although the interactive elements are quite delicate, the pages are section sewn which makes them quite secure. The books are printed in China using four bright jewel tones which look great against the thick paper used. The interactive elements come with paper protectors (or hard card protectors for those with metal elements) that you can leave in the books.
June 2015 saw their first release in this series being Peter Pan by James Barrie. I’m sure you’re all familiar with this classic tale, but the illustrations are delightful and the interactive elements are really creative, such as a map of Neverland and skull rock, a “croc o’clock” with hands you can rotate to tell time, and a fairy clapping chart.
The design elements throughout the whole book are all really thoughtful, for example individual illustrations have been drawn next to each chapter heading in the table of contents that are also reproduced at the bottom of each chapter. The metal snaps that hold the rotating wheel in place are relatively thick, which does run the risk of damaging the paper on either side, unless you leave the cardboard protector in place.
Where to buy
The Jungle Book
This was followed by The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling in 2016. This is an enchanting collection of seven animal tales set in India, each accompanied by a poem. The first few tales – Mowgli’s Brothers, Kaa’s Hunting, and Tiger Tiger,– introduce the characters that many find familiar from the animated Disney film, such as the man-cub Mowgli, the black panther Bagheera, the wise brown bear Baloo, the ruthless tiger Shere Khan, and the hypnotic python Kaa. The other tales are about less familiar animals, including the travels of the white seal Kotick; the battle between the courageous mongoose Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and the deadly cobra Nag; Toomai and the elephant dance; and the camp animals of the queen’s guard.
Continuing what has become a theme throughout this series are the inclusion of maps and spinning wheels. The Jungle book includes a map of the lost Indian city where Mowgli is taken by the monkeys; a fold-out picture which details the Laws of the Jungle; a spinning dial of the elephant dance; and a map of Kotick’s route to find a new home.
Where to buy
Beauty and the Beast
In January of 2017, they released the unabridged version of The Beauty and the Beast, the French fairy tale by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. This was published in time to coincide with the big live-action Disney adaptation of the tale, although this original version is quite different to the Disneyfied story, being a little less child-friendly by modern standards and needing a reasonably high reading comprehension to cope with the complex language since it’s a translation of the original French.
MinaLima’s version contains a fold-out map of the city where Beauty and her family live, as well as an additional map showing inside the Beast’s palace. There is a ring dial you can turn similar to the ring Beauty uses to return to the beast. Some of the interactive elements are a little spurious, such as the advent calendar with flaps to open to find different entertainments Beauty can find at the palace, but the artwork is always delightful.
Where to buy
The Little Mermaid
In March 2018, MinaLima published The Little Mermaid and Other Fairy Tales. This is a collection of 13 of Hans Christian Andersen’s most popular children’s tales, including “The Little Mermaid,” “The Nightingale”, “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Swineherd”, “The Tinder Box” “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “The Red Shoes, “Thumbelina,” “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”, The Little Match Girl”, and my personal favorite “The Snow Queen.”
Interactive features in this volume include a spinning mermaid dial; a duckling that transforms into a swan; mattresses that reveal a pea when they are pulled away; and the glorious palace of the Snow Queen.
Where to buy
The Secret Garden
In July of 2018, they also released a delightful version of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This is a classic English children’s novel, first published in 1911, in which lonely and spoiled orphan Mary Lennox is sent from her home in India to live in an isolated manor in the Yorkshire moors. Her adventures lead her to find a secret garden, and make friends with the animal loving Dickon, and equally spoiled cousin Colin. It’s a really lovely story, that I enjoyed as much re-reading as an adult as I did as a child. I particularly loved the construction of the Yorkshire accent. Although I should warn that the book shows its age with some inappropriate “colonial superiority” with regard to its descriptions of India.
Some of the delightful interactive features in this volume include maps of Misselthwaite Manor and the Secret Garden, a spinning dial of growing plants, a paper doll of Mary, and some adorable removable letters.
Where to buy
Alice in Wonderland
The next edition, released in October 2019, was perennial favourite novel Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol.
Interactive features in this edition include: Alice with extendable legs and arms; the rabbit’s house which opens to reveal a giant Alice; the Cheshire cat with a pull tab that removes the cat and leaves the cat’s grin; a flamingo croquet club that swings to hit the hedgehog; and a removable map of the Looking Glass world.
Where to buy
May 2020 saw the release of The Adventures of Pinocchio (originally published in 1883). Written by Italian political satirist Carlo Collodi, it is the story of Geppetto, a poor puppeteer who uses an enchanted piece of wood to carve a marionette boy he calls Pinocchio. But the impish Pinocchio does not want to be a puppet; he yearns to become a real boy. Soon, his curiosity, mischievousness, and naivete lead him away from his father’s shop and into a series of perilous encounters with vicious puppet masters, cunning animals, and other magical characters.
MinaLima’s imaginative additions to this edition include finger puppets (featuring a Pinocchio puppet with clothing), a small theatre for a puppet show, a court deck with Pinocchio behind sliding bars and a fold out shark revealing Pinocchio and Geppetto inside.
Where to buy
The Wizard of Oz
The next volume in the series is due in September 2021: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. This is of course the American fairy tale in which Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto are taken away from Kansas by a magical tornado and deposited in Oz. As she walks along the Yellow Brick Road she encounters the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion who join her in her quest to make it to the Emerald City to find the Wizard of Oz and get back home.
Interactive features in this edition include a cyclone map that opens up to reveal the Land of Oz; pop-up Yellow Brick Road
Oz glasses that provide a different look at the world; fighting trees with branches that move; and Dorothy’s silver shoes that can be clicked together.
Where to buy
October 2020 saw the first contemporary sort-of addition to this series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone / Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling. As MinaLima are the design magicians behind the gorgeous visual graphic style of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films, this was a must-buy for me.
This series is not officially part of the interactive children’s classics collection, but the size and design of the books are the same for both collections, so I consider it an extension of the original design.
It includes eight interactive paper-engineered elements – including Harry’s Hogwarts letter, the magical entrance to Diagon Alley, a sumptuous feast in the Great Hall of Hogwarts and more.
Philosopher’s Stone (UK) ISBN: 9781526626585 | Sorcerer’s Stone (US) ISBN: 9781338596700