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Children's LiteratureHugo Award-winner Ron Miller offers a little history and a little "how-to" in this reasonably approached and readable introduction to cinematic special effects. Defining special effects as "illusions to fool audiences," he gives a brief nod to the long history of stage tricks before moving on to early cinema history. Double exposures, stop motion, miniaturization—all were there in the films of Melies and other early pioneers. But it is fun to see the incremental expansions Hollywood made through specialists like Willis O'Brien (King Kong) and George Pal, all the way up to George Lucas' Star Wars and the more recent Lord of the Rings films. The second part of the book addresses recent uses of the same old tricks through more technical explanations. Who knew that because of its physical properties, water cannot be miniaturized? The schemes to get around this problem are fascinating. Fascinating, too, is the section on matte painting, whether by hand or digitalized—not to mention the discussions on optical effects and makeup effects. In short, this is a useful, pretty good book even before the back matter of glossary, further reading, web sites, and index rounds it out. Middle and upper school libraries would do well to stock it for all those young filmmakers in process, while science classes could have a field day exploring the theories behind the tricks. 2006, Twenty-First Century Books, Ages 10 up.