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)