chapter  6
Fuller “Paper-Doll” Books
Playing Across Gender and Genre
ByJacqueline Reid-Walsh
Pages 27

In the previous section of Interactive Books, I examined simple and inexpensive turn-up books made of one or two pieces of paper folded and cut into flaps. These types were popular from the 17th to 19th centuries and directed to a wide audience that included children. By contrast, in this section I examine progressively more complex movable books directed to specific groups of middle-class children during the Regency and Victorian periods. These children were from more affluent families who could afford to purchase the books as gifts. In some ways, both the paper-doll books (the subject of this chapter) and the toy-theater sets (the subject of the next chapter) are precursors of contemporary kits since they consist of different elements packaged together in a book-like or codex form. Structurally, the artifacts are similar in that they are of a slot-and-tab design, which allows for a wide range of activities and agency for a child reader-viewer-player. As I discuss in Chapter 7, this notion of agency sometimes extended to purchasing power as well. Since the toy-theater sheets were also sold piecemeal, middle-class children (in England especially boys) who had enough pocket money could purchase separate items themselves. In each case, with respect to both paper-doll books and toy-theater sets, this agency extends to include modifying the purchased texts by adding extra stories and illustrations or recombining the materials in different ways.