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Pop-up book collector and teacher Rizal

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Meet pop-up book collector, pop-up artist and our personal hero Mohamad Rizal Kapandi from Malaysia. After he bought his very first pop-up book, a new collection was born. For Rizal, pop-up books have the power to make your imagination come to life. With the dream of creating his own pop-up book one day, he started learning how to make pop-ups by studying other pop-up books he bought over the internet. Now that he owns the skill to create pop-ups himself, he loves nothing more than to share his knowledge and creativity with others.

Working as a teacher at an Aboriginal school, Rizal uses his passion for pop-ups to teach his students and other teachers to be creative and innovative. He is very committed to the creative growth and development of his students and works very hard for a harmonious and respectful environment. Hence his motto “Teacher by Day, Artist by Love”

Rizal is Malaysia’s leading paper engineer and has been active in many workshops and festivals related to books and creativity. We are very pleased that Rizal was willing to answer our questions and tell us more about his passion for pop-up books.

At school, Rizal teaches his students to be creative and innovatie. A lot of lessons and activities are devoted to the art of pop-ups and how to create them yourself.

The interview

BPUB – What was the first pop-up book you bought?

RThe Jungle Book by Matthew Reinhart and Winter’s Tale by Robert Sabuda. I bought these used books online from my first salary when I started my career as a primary school teacher at an Aboriginal school. I was very pleased when I got my very first pop-up books.

BPUB – Who’s your favorite pop-up book author or paper engineer?

R – Absolutely my dear masterminds Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart. Both of them are amazing and have inspired me a lot to create and publish my own pop-up book. They not only gave me moral support, they also gave me a lot of boxes full of books and things related with creating pop-up books such as original Adobe book and CD software, an external hardisk, the DVD Journey of Pop-Up Book, a cutting machine and more. I even got introduced to some of the Singapore Book Council Chairman at India during the book festival. From there, I spread my wings to an international level.

BPUB – What are your favorite books in your collection and why?

R – I can say that I love all pop-up books but my most favorite books are America The Beautiful by Sabuda and Star Wars by Reinhart. Both of these books inspired me in different ways. For me, Robert Sabuda just blew me away with his superb creations in America The Beautiful. This book gave me the idea to create something about my country Malaysia which I love so much, and also to develop patriotism amongst my kids at school. Star Wars, for me, is like imagination becomes reality. We all know how much these movies speak to our imagination and became a phenomenon for more than a decade. Star Wars as a pop-up book was really amazing and unexpected for me. It proves that there is nothing impossible in our lives to realize a big dream. The word impossible itself says “I’m possible”, like Master Yoda said: “Do or do not, There is no try!”

“There is nothing impossible in our lives to realize a big dream.”

Mohamad Rizal Kapandi

BPUB – How many books are there in your collection and how do you display them?

R – More than hundred books. Most of them I display in our school library. I’m a teacher who is in charge of the library and I work hard on the CSR program (Corporate Social Responsibility) from our school community. One of the corporate sectors contributes RM7000.00 (≈ $1700) every year for library and literacy development. So I decided to create an exclusive corner for this CSR program called “Medini Mind”, from the company Medini Iskandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd. This corner focuses on the active, creative and innovative projects. So all signed pop-up books, banners, pop-up books created by students and books that we’ve bought from bookstores are displayed here.

Rizal, in charge of the school library, provides an inspiring and creative environment for the children so that they learn how to develop themselves.

BPUB – Is your collection still complete? Are there any books missing or never returned?

R – The Jungle Book pop-up book with Matthew’s signature on it. I believe someone has taken it because this book was very impressive to everyone. The pop-up designs, the graphics and the story itself. I have bought another four copies for the collection and as a gift for my relatives.

BPUB – If you could choose a subject for a new pop-up book by any author, what will it be?

R – It would be PEACE. I believe that we should respect each other in this world but that there is some media misinterpretation between races, religions and countries. I am working on a motivational pop-up book to inspire others all over the world.

BPUB – Is there anything else you would like us to know about you as a pop-up book collector and creator?

R – I am Malaysia’s leading paper engineer recognized by Robert Sabuda by the International Paper Engineer Community. I have designed a lot of cards and books and perhaps that my first pop-up books called Malaysia Alphabet and Puteri Gunung Ledang (Princess of Mount Ledang) will be published at the end of this year. I love to share my pop-up skills by giving workshops for kids and teachers. I also achieved an innovation reward and was invited to many workshops and children’s festivals as a speaker and facilitator. One of these events was the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore and the next will be the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in Bali.

As a creative teacher I feel the responsibility to share my passion with my students. Allowing them to experience an active growth and become the next creative and innovative generation of entrepreneurs.

My motto is “Teacher by day, Artist by love” and I want to give as much as I can as an educator.

BPUB – Thank you Rizal for sharing your inspirational story with us! We wish you all the best and keep up the great work being an amazing teacher and creating pop-ups!

Do you want to know more about Rizal and his work? Then make sure to take a look at his website or support him on his social media channels: Instagram, FaceBook, Twitter and Pinterest.


Image credits: Mohamad Rizal Kapandi


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