Saturday, January 05, 2013

Stereoscopic Menagerie: Zoo in 3-D: An Incredible Animal Adventure by National Geographic Editors

HOW DO animals see?

Some animals (humans included) have stereoscopic (3-D)or binocular vision. Creatures with this type of sight have both eyes at the font of the head, facing forward, so that the visual fields, or the areas they see in front of them, overlaps.

The brain processes the overlapping images three dimensionally, which helps these animals with their depth perception, enabling them to judge distances accurately.  Predators such as lions, owls, and dogs usually have stereoscopic vision.

When winter weather makes a trip to the zoo an unwonted event, what to do? National Geographic, the signature purveyor of children's books studded with nature photos, is aware of this need, and into the  breech  comes their new and  inventive offering, TIME for Kids Zoo 3D: An Incredible Animal Adventure (Time for Kids Magazine) (National Geographic Time for Kids Books, 2012).  Accoutered with TWO pairs of 3-D glasses (modeled by the stylin' orangutan on the cover), this book makes it possible for two children or parent and child to view the book together. Included are the usual zoo favorites--lions, tigers (Bengal and White), and bears (Asian, polar and grizzly, Oh, My!)--as well as the other usual suspects--elephant, cheetah, sea lion, giant panda, cougar, and ostrich in glorious stereoscopic detail. Less common zoo denizens are also there--bonobo (pygmy chimp), Komodo dragon, Cuban crocodile, kookaburra, and hissing cockroach.

In true National Geographic style, there is plenty of knowledge provided textually on each page, along with intriguing Did You Know...? fact boxes which expand the discussion, as well as a final section, "Who's Who at the Zoo," which shows all the human specialists, from food prep dietitians and workers to veterinarians, and other attendants in the background at every zoo. Also shown is the D.A.V.I.D, (digitally anaglyphic vertically inclined display) which pops off the page when viewed at an angle.

Books for children continue to be the most interactive, inventive, and novel format in the publishing world, finding ways to do things inside the conventional cover that even ebooks can't begin to achieve so well.  National Geographic Kids Time continues to exploit the possibilities of the book, this one a throwback to the stereopticons of Victorian days and its later iterations in 3-D films from the 1950s Creature from the Black Lagoon to The Hobbit. To put it tritely but truly, this book is fun and informative for all members of the family.

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