A Colorful World On Your Shelf

GENERIC book books literacy reading christmas
CBS Sunday Morning contributor Janet Maslin of The New York Times gives praise to the colorful, informative and moving books perfect for a holiday purchase

Meet the Panamanian Golden Frog. Isn't he beautiful? But there he is in the middle of a flower, trying to disappear. Art Wolfe's "Vanishing Act" is a whole book devoted to creatures using camouflage. And that is not the spirit of the season.

At this time of year, nothing this great-looking is supposed to hide. This is high season for show-offs, at least where picture books are concerned.

Just look at the flamboyant glamour girls in "Dames," by the fashion photographer Eric Boman. It's a book in which not even Ivana Trump looks loud, and it is a festival of flouncing.

Boman's well-known women radiate confidence. They know he's made them look good. The glamour is more studied in "Hollywood at Home," the Architectural Digest anthology of movie people living in their own staged settings. Whether it's Marilyn Monroe reading, posed besides books by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky or Jayne Mansfield in a bathroom with pink shag carpeting on the ceiling, these are pictures that tell stories.

And their artifice is every bit as striking as the posturing in Richard Avedon's fashion pictures, seen in the black-and-white collection "Woman in the Mirror."

There are several civilian women to be found here. But most of these pictures are dramatic, exotic portraits of non-dame beauties.

For those whose idea of the exotic is more far-flung, this season's most colorful travel book is "India." The book looks lavish, but it pictures a wide range of human experience.