Chapter 1 of this book is titled 'Catching the Wave'. I have to say that I think that this is what this book is about, catching the latest fad among the WWW surfers. Chapter 1 is in fact an introduction to terms and context coupled with the conventional American habit of telling you what the rest of the book is about. Chapter 2 is a brief survey of the elements of 3D graphics.
We then, bizarrely come to Part 1 of the book which starts with chapter 3. This part of the book surveys a number of products that allow you to create and operate avatars. Part 2 (chapter 12&13) are about working with pre- built avatars. Chapters 14-16 form part 3 that claims to be about applying professional polish to your work. Well that rather depends on your definition of professional. Interesting but I hardly think it lives up to its claims.
Parts 4 and 5 are largely in dreamland.
Don't buy this book if you are serious about programming avatars, buy a software package and learn by doing. If you want a view of where the whiz kids think they are heading then you might find it an interesting read and the attached CD might give you a couple of gee whiz moments.
If you think I am a bit flippant about this book, I was put off by the first sentence of the back cover blurb:
In this complete how-to guide, expert Sue Ki Wilcox takes a hands- on approach to teaching you how to use and get the most out of the avatar tools currently on the market.
This is not the kind of overblown hype that I expect from one of my favourite publishers. It would take much more than this volume to meet those claims.