We’re all big fans of artful, creative pop-up books around here, but when I checked out a copy of Midnight Creatures: A Pop-up Shadow Search, it didn’t cross my mind just how extraordinarily creative it would be — and how much it would captivate even my 9-year-old.

Illustrator and cut-paper artist Helen Friel’s book is truly a marvel; a series of spreads that introduce nocturnal animals who inhabit the ocean, the woods, caves and beyond. At first, each of the three black, die-cut pop ups on each spread looks somewhat abstract. But on closer glance, you see they’re filled with the hidden shapes of creatures identified on each page. Where it gets really fun, though, is when you whip out your flashlight to shine through the dioramas, revealing a shadow-puppet effect on the wall. So cool!

Kids may more easily recognize animals like the horseshoe bat, hedgehog, or giant squid; but things get really interesting with the more obscure creatures kids love being able to talk about, like a long-nosed chimaera or the cat-like fossa. Perfect for their next game of “stump the grandparents.”

Related: 11 truly beautiful pop-up books for kids

The Midnight Creatures Pop-Up Book is so cool! Shine a flashlight through and kids can search for the nocturnal animals hidden in the cut paper

The book makes for a fun, educational gift that’s perfect around Halloween, but I think they’ll use it all year long. I can totally see my kids bringing it out at sleepover parties to impress their friends. Which I way prefer over another marathon YouTube viewing session.

Find Midnight Creatures: A Pop-up Shadow Search from our affiliate Amazon or your local independent bookstore. Get the hardcover, it’s worth it. And learn more about cut-paper artist and author Helen Friel on her website.

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