Small Bites: This book is one of a series of Teach Yourself Visually books, each with the tag line "Read less, learn more." Its audience seems to be those who suffer from Fear of Flash, or are spooked at the idea of the Internet or multimedia in general. Information is doled out in bite-sized chunks, as tool operations, panels and processes are patiently explained (sometimes in excruciating detail). It doesn't try to be a reference book, or a must-read for animation gurus...it is designed to be a painless introduction. If you want to learn intricate ActionScripts and interactivity, you'll need to look elsewhere.
Like the other books in the series, the top of each page is elaborately illustrated with slick (if often soul-less) 3-D renderings.Some of these illustrations are helpful, and others are gratuitous and overly cute, obvious space fillers designed to plug holes in the format. Each page bottom is reserved for screen shots and step-by-step instructions.
Information is presented in logical order, and Flash terms and definitions are explained well. The 13 chapters will take most beginners around an hour or more to complete. The Animation Terms Appendix is too short, but what there is of it is good.
Downside: The book would be a better aid for the beginners it's aimed at if the publishers offered some downloadable online files. Nothing beats dissecting files when you're a Flash novice. And, with no mention of Photoshop, Fireworks, ImageReady, Dreamweaver, or the Mac OS anywhere in the book, it's as if the author thinks Flash exists in a vacuum in a Windows-only world. Even browsers, the delivery vehicle for most Flash animations, are given very little ink. It may be that auxiliary programs, alternate OS keyboard commands, and core concepts are tough to wedge into this format. In that case, an author should ask if the format is the tool or the master.
Bottom Line: All in all, this book is a good choice for beginners who want to learn Flash basics with minimum stress. You won't master the program with the book, but you will get a solid foundation in the tools and processes. But you may not get a firm grasp of Flash's core concepts...the chunk-by-chunk approach is better at showing the trees than the forest. Consequently, some beginners who finish this book may end up feeling like a kid who has finished the classroom portion of Driver's Education, but has little behind-the-wheel experience.