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THE MAGIC OF REALITY by Richard Dawkins Kirkus Star


by & illustrated by & developed by

Age Range: 11 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 2011
Publisher: Random House UK

In a terrific example of e-bookmaking, animations, audio clips and interactive demos embellish the full text and already-memorable illustrations of this bestselling take on What Is So and What Ain’t.

In 12 chapters headed by questions from “Who was the first person?” and “Are we alone?” to “Why do bad things happen?” Dawkins (clearly no respecter of magical thinking or faith-based reality) opens with surveys of relevant myths or popular but mistaken beliefs. He then dismisses them to retrace in eminently readable prose the origins, characteristics and evolution of matter, life and language; explain the physical causes of seasons, rainbows and earthquakes; and look into chance and coincidence. His basic premise is that science guides us to a reality “more magical—in the best and most exciting sense of the word—than any myth or made-up mystery or miracle.” Small, brief gestures or changes of position further enliven art that, in a virtuosic variety of looks and styles, comments both informatively and wittily on the manually advanced narrative. Nearly every chapter contains a multimedia or interactive feature, such as a swiveling “Newton’s Cannon” that will fire cannonballs into orbit if correctly angled, brief audio remarks (or, in one case, a passage from Chaucer) by the author or a touch- and tilt-sensitive tour through the states of matter.

Plenty of well-designed, smoothly integrated special features only enhance this passionate, provocative scientific manifesto. (thumbnail-image chapter and page indexes) (iPad nonfiction app. 11 & up)