Cheree Berry | Hoorah for the Bra

Hoorah for the Bra is a celebration of the evolution of mammalian comfort and flirting possibilities for girls and women.

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Stewart, Tabori & Chang; 48 pgs; $19.95 

You had me at pop-up book about the bra. Hasn’t someone thought of this before now? What a cute idea. Surely there’s a phallic sequel in the works. Actually, for the adult pop-up aficionado, there is—gulp!—The Pop-Up Kama Sutra.

Hoorah for the Bra is a celebration of the evolution of mammalian comfort and flirting possibilities for girls and women. We go from corsets to the invention of the first brassiere, up through bullet bras, bra burning, the Jog Bra, the Wonderbra and breast enlargement. (And what does the future hold? The rise of the three-titted gal, mayhaps? Who can say?)

The sartorial journey is measured by forgettable pop-up illustrations. For instance, a corset flattens boobies like pancakes, so a pair of pancakes with butter-pat nipples rises from the page. The bullet-bra headlights of the ‘50s are signified by a pair of snow-capped mountains that fold into being. I guess it will titillate (pun intended) the sheltered, but for others, the 3D-effect may come off as uninspired.

Understand, pop-up books have come a long way. For a look at the possibilities, try something like Maurice Sendak’s Mommy?. Or just browse the pop-up section of the children’s area at Borders. You’ll see pop-up features with dozens of intricate folds joining like magic. And perhaps more importantly, you’ll see what’s now essential to a good pop-up: interactivity. Strings to pull, slats to push, flaps to lift, wheels to turn. Hoorah for the Bra has virtually no interactivity — a single pop-up, permitting a kind of pull-tab demo of the Wonderbra in action, is all that’s offered. And the other pop-ups are of the simplest construction.

The text, a thankful paean to innovation, is workmanlike and breezy. In the shadow of the boobie pop-ups, it’s probably the equivalent of the articles in Playboy, though—nobody’s here for the words, really.

In fact, Hoorah for the Bra practically announces itself as a gift item — it’s not something you buy for yourself. The simple fare inside, along with the slight 48-page count, confirms it.

The book is clamped shut by an actual double-hook bra clasp, reminiscent of the lock guarding the secrets of a girl’s diary — it’s a clever touch.Incidentally, a note in the afterword mentions that the book was printed and bound in China. It’s ironic that a book about freedom from the strictures of tight clothing is being published in a place still struggling with basic freedom of expression.

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