Usborne Jigsaw Books and ’Illusions’

By DONNA MCCROHAN ROSENTHAL

These special delights from Usborne Publishing and Charles-bridge’s Imagine Books combine text and visuals with hours and hours of entertainment for children and adults.

For ages 5 and up, “Usborne Under the Sea Jigsaw Book” (by Kirsteen Rogers, illus. Peter Scott, 14 pages, hardcover board book, 2007, $14.99), right-hand pages describe sea creatures with brief explanations and colorful pictures. The same figures appear in underwater scenes on the corresponding left-hand pages, and each left-hand page is a jigsaw puzzle with removable pieces.

In “Usborne Jigsaw Atlas of North America” (cartography/ research by Craig Asquith, illus. Colin King, 14 pages, hardcover board book, 2006, $14.99), right-hand pages present pictures of items to find in the maps on the left-hand page jigsaw puzzles – bison, Golden Gate Bridge, puffin, Trans-Alaska pipeline and so on.

In “The Usborne Dinosaur Jigsaw Atlas” (map consultant Craig Asquith, dinosaur consultant Darren Naish, illus. Glen Bird, Ian Jackson and Peter Scott, 14 pages, hardcover board book, 2004, $14.99), right-hand pages show and identify dinosaurs from South America’s Patagosaurus to Africa’s Jobaria and invite youngsters to discover them in the left-hand map jigsaw puzzle pages.

The books enjoyably pair lessons in oceanography, paleontology, geography and more with exercises in hand-eye coordination.

For older readers and grown-ups in general, “The Art of the Illusion: Deceptions to Challenge the Eye and Mind” (Brad Honeycutt and Terry Stickels, foreword by Scott Kim, indexed, 2012, hardcover, An Imagine Book, 224 pages, $24.95) begins with an excellent introduction to the bridge between mathematics and art, and how symmetry, periodic tiling of the plane, platonic solids, hyperbolic geometry and crystallography can produce clever and sometimes gorgeous compositions

Printed on heavy, glossy paper, it continues with over 200 paintings and photographs by the great M.C. Escher and others, and concludes with a long list of artist websites.

Throughout, perspective and fantasy collide, continuous loops of im-possible stairs perpetually ascend and descend, murals transform flat walls into 3D marvels and designs seem to undulate, rotate and float. As the epilogue says, they “compel you to see into them so that what you first see is not what you see.”

To summarize: Usborne’s titles deliver plenty of educational, interactive, do-it-again-and-again play, and “Illusions” conveys the decided impression of making your eyeballs think. In fairness, why should kids have all the fun?

This weekly column is written by members of the Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the California Writers Club. Starting in January, meetings will be held the first Wednesday evening of each month at the Ridgecrest Presbyter-ian Church. Free programs are offered throughout the year. Ridge Writers’ book “Planet Mojave: Visions From a World Apart” is available at Carriage Inn, Jawbone Station, the Historic USO Building, Maturango Museum, Red Rock Books and online from the official website www.planetmojave.com.

Story First Published: 2012-12-05