A post in two parts, to spare your browser. (With apologies that my photography gives only an idea of the craftmanship. These were even harder to capture than I'd expected.)
A story with flying children and pirate ships does lend itself to the pop-up book technique, but I had no idea how easily I'd find seven versions of Peter Pan "transformational" books. None of them are from longer ago than the early 90s, but surely older ones exist. Possibly even some which still work, although lowered expectations are probably the healthy approach.
While three-dimensional art books have been around since the 1200s, says Wikipedia, the oldest Peter Pan pop--up I have is from 1991, with art by Carolyn Geer. The folded card-stock in these books takes up so much space, the stories they illustrate end up necessarily truncated. This version chose to address the issue by publishing the story in four volumes. No, I did not find them all from the same seller. Yes, I have the completist collector disease.
This "Change the Picture and Lift the Flap" book from 1992, illustrations by Edmund Caswell, taught me it was time to pay more attention to those little descriptions of used book quality. This goes beyond aesthetic issues like cover stains and names written inside--you may end up with a book with only one functioning construction. Most of these are out of print, they frequently received a lot of use from small children...you see the problem.
The reader pulls the tab on the lower left of the circle (gently!)
and turns the image
into a different one. Fun effect, when it works.
I lucked upon a Chinese pop-up Peter from 1996, but sadly I cannot tell you any more about it than that. It is lovely, though.
After this, there's a gap in my collection of about ten years, after which pop-up books become elaborate and pull out some new tricks. More on those in part two.