Acting on a Dream
Ending his academic career in 2002, Paul Wehr, with his wife Christiane, began to realize a dream. For some years he had thought of reintroducing the animated children's books that, as a child, he had watched his father create. Reviving them would produce many happy children and perhaps some profits to support a retired professor's favorite good works organizations. Thus did Wehr Animations come to be.
The dreamer had some luck. Through the World Wide Web, interest was growing around books with movable parts. Such books first appeared in the 18th century and by the mid-20th were produced in increasing numbers and diversity. Among those interested in the genre, movable book creators have come to be known as paper engineers. As original copies of such books became increasingly sought after by library archivists and individual collectors, the Movable Book Society was formed to help them.
The Animated Book
Julian Wehr had come to be recognized as a pre-eminent paper engineer, singular for his moving illustrations. Until the arrival of the new millenium, however, admirers of his work knew little about the man. Then, research librarians Alan Boehm and Roy Ziegler set out to find Wehr. Though he had died in 1970, his four children were very much alive and eager to tell them the animated book's life story. From that inquiry came the Wehr family's project to assure that the story, historical documents and new editions of the Wehr animated books are made available with versions in five world languages.
The Animator and his Craft
Julian's life, the technique he used to create the animated book, and many of the original materials from the creation process are contained in The Wehr Collection, to be found in the archives of the University of Virginia's Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.
Julian's animated books were truly a labor of love. He didn't love creating them, for he was a sculptor and paper engineering was far from where his muse wished to take him. But he did love his wife and children and he could support them through the books. They developed out of that context of family love. Love's Animation tells the story of Julian and Juliette and how the animated book developed along with their little family.