________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 16 . . . . April 15, 2005


Amazing Optical Illusions.

Richmond Hill, ON: Firefly Books, 2004.
32 pp., pbk. & cl., $5.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55297-962-8 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55297-961-X (cl.).

Subject Heading:
Optical illusions-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3 and up / Ages 8 and up.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4


When you see something, light enters your eyes. The light is focused on sensitive “screens” at the back of each eyeball. The information focused there is sent to your brain. Then it’s your brain’s job to make sense out of the information it gets.

This is where optical illusions come in. “Optical” has to do with your sight. An “illusion” is a kind of trick. When you look at an optical illusion, some part of the process just doesn’t match up. This may happen because of how the eye works. It may also happen because of how the brain works. So you may see things that really aren’t there or that just don’t make sense!

internal art

It’s a hot, cloudless summer day, and you and your family are driving down a straight highway. In front of the car and in the distance, there appears to be an inviting pool of water, but, alas, it’s never to be reached because it’s just a mirage or atmospheric optical illusion. While that illusion was created by nature, the 29 that are to be found in Amazing Optical Illusions, have all been created by humans. Each occupies but a single page and is introduced by a question found at the top of the page:

Are the two kids in this room the same height?

Which face appears happier?

     The optical illusion, which occupies most of the page, is then presented as a photo or other graphic, and an explanation for what is seemingly seen is provided at the bottom of the page.

     The explanation for the two kids’ apparently different heights states:

Yes they are. The illusion occurs because unlike most rooms, this one is not shaped like a cube. In this room, the left corner (where the girl is) is twice as far away as the right corner (where the boy is). It is also at a lower height. From this angle, however, the two corners appear to be about the same distance away and the floor appears level.

     Regarding the two faces, I believed that the face on the right side appeared happier, and the explanation confirmed that I “saw” what most people also see. “However, neither face is really ‘happier’ than the other. They are mirror-images.”

     Obviously a book for fun viewing/reading and browsing, its contents could also contribute to high school level introductory psychology courses.


Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children’s and YA literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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