Browsers and budding neurologists alike will be dazzled, dizzied, and delighted.

READ REVIEW

THE NEW BOOK OF OPTICAL ILLUSIONS

A substantial gallery of optical puzzlers and deceivers, with notes on their creators and discoverers.

From the publisher of Al Seckel’s Great Book of Optical Illusions (2001), this worthy successor gathers over 150 photos, shapes, graphic patterns, and artistic effects—with plenty of overlap, particularly in types of effect, but scads of fresh examples. A standard but comprehensive array of color and line juxtapositions, apparent spirals, endless staircases, trick photos, and geometric patterns to which the eye (brain) adds ghostly effects is grouped into 33 types. It’s expanded with entries ranging from 3-D mosaics found in ancient Roman villas to trompe l’oeil paintings and sidewalk chalk drawings, anamorphic images, animal camouflage, face painting, and numerous demonstrations of pattern recognition. These last include illusory “faces” in buildings or natural objects and a block of text that is surprisingly readable even though all the letters except each word’s first and last ones are jumbled. Rüschemeyer’s accompanying notes are scanty and unsystematic, but he usually describes each effect, delves into its neurological cause (where understood), and recounts its sometimes-serendipitous discovery.

Browsers and budding neurologists alike will be dazzled, dizzied, and delighted. (Nonfiction. 8 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77085-592-2

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers.

DON'T READ THIS BOOK BEFORE BED

THRILLS, CHILLS, AND HAUNTINGLY TRUE STORIES

A compendium of paranormal doings, natural horrors, and eerie wonders worldwide and (in several senses) beyond.

Maladroit title aside (“…in Bed” would make more sense, cautionwise), this collection of hauntings, cryptids, natural and historical mysteries, and general titillation (“Vampire bats might be coming for you!”) offers a broad array of reasons to stay wide awake. Arranged in no discernible order the 60-plus entries include ghostly sightings in the White House and various castles, body-burrowing guinea worms, the Nazca lines of Peru, Mothman and Nessie, the hastily abandoned city of Pripyat (which, thanks to the Chernobyl disaster, may be habitable again…in 24,000 years), monarch-butterfly migrations, and diverse rains of fish, frogs, fireballs, and unidentified slime. Each is presented in a busy whirl of narrative blocks, photos, graphics, side comments, and arbitrary “Fright-O-Meter” ratings (Paris’ “Creepy Catacombs” earn just a “4” out of 10 and black holes a “3,” but the aforementioned aerial amphibians a full “10”). The headers tend toward the lurid: “Jelly From Space,” “Zombie Ants,” “Mongolian Death Worm.” Claybourne sprinkles multiple-choice pop quizzes throughout for changes of pace.

A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2841-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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An impressive manual for achieving Scratch programming mastery and creating genuinely entertaining games.

SCRATCH PROGRAMMING PLAYGROUND

LEARN TO PROGRAM BY MAKING COOL GAMES

A Scratch guide that goes beyond basic games and into some instructional depth.

After an introduction explaining the book’s structure and a first chapter that gets users up and running in Scratch, each following chapter is dedicated to a single game. From an early maze game to more-complicated games that resemble popular ones, such as a brick-breaker game and a “Fruit Ninja” clone called “Fruit Slicer,” readers are guided through screenshot illustrations of what the visual Scratch code should look like, as well as clear explanations about what the code is doing. Additionally, this manual’s heavy on customization, encouraging readers to make their own art for the games in the Scratch Paint Editor (although it also provides links to project files with sprites and other images to help those short on time or artistic abilities), and it even includes instructions on how to make “cheats” for the games. Each game is followed by skill summaries and review questions. The chapters’ complexity builds, climaxing in an ambitious, complicated-but-achievable final “Super Mario”–style game. Aside from the easy-to-follow instructions, puns give the book personality, and recommended resources pair with a thorough index to maximize usability. The structure’s ideal for classrooms, and the writing is accessible to independent readers—younger, with parental assistance.

An impressive manual for achieving Scratch programming mastery and creating genuinely entertaining games. (Nonfiction. 8-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59327-762-8

Page Count: 292

Publisher: No Starch Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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