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    A Biographical Sketch of Julian Wehr (1898-1970): American Master of the Movable Book
    (James E. Walker Library, Middle Tennessee State University, 2024-02-27) Boehm, Alan ; Ziegler, Roy
    In the emerging popular and scholarly attention given to movable books, the name Julian Wehr often figures as an outstanding illustrator and paper engineer who in the 1940s and early 1950s published over 40 children's books notable for their appealing illustrations, but remarkable for their innovative pull-tab animations. Cleverly simple in design and widely imitated at the time, Wehr's approach to animated illustration revived a children's book format that had all but vanished from publishers' trade lists after the First World War because of production impracticalities. For although animated books had enjoyed considerable popularity in the late 1800s and early 1900s, they were typically lavish and expensive novelties that involved the manual assembly of an elaborate array of paper parts and minuscule hardware. By contrast, Wehr's animation technique--yielding pictorial movement as complex as any achieved by earlier methods--relied on only one or two pieces of paper and, moreover, his animated books were easily adapted to low-cost mass production. And mass-produced they were, for it is likely that upwards of nine million copies of Wehr's various titles--some translated into Spanish, French, German, and Icelandic--were sold in the United States, Canada, France, Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Iceland, and elsewhere. Accordingly, we offer in this essay a brief biographical sketch of Wehr's life and career. It is based chiefly on interviews conducted across the spring, summer, and autumn of 2001 with his four children, Camilla West Molinari (Wehr's daughter from his first marriage), David Wehr, Paul Wehr, and Jeanine Wehr Jones (Wehr's sons and daughter from his second marriage). The Wehr children also have made available to us their father's art work, letters, and other materials.