I read Matthew McDonald’s book Pro WPF to bone up on WPF, XAML, and everything .NET 3.5 has to offer.  I have to say that I was impressed by Matthew’s writing style, level of detail, and general knowledge that he passed onto the reader.  This fact is also the case with Pro Silverlight 2.  While WPF has some similarities to Silverlight, the author points out some of the differences (like the lack for EventTrigger support for any event but the Loaded event in the current version).

The book covers all of the major topics, starting with an overview of the basic elements: XAML elements, properties (simple and attached), moving into the subjects of Layout containers, dependency properties, and routed events.  He then moves into an overview of the various controls.  This overview isn’t exhaustive, but gives you a firm foundation.  I thought his chapters on shapes, brushes, transforms, audio/video, and animation to be very helpful.  It can be difficult to understand how to setup these various features, and Pro Silverlight 2 clarifies it well.

The next section of the book covers the more advanced topics that you would need to know to use Silverlight, such as using web services within ASP.NET/silverlight (a useful topic since Silverlight doesn’t use ViewState or server-side technologies because it’s running on the client), databinding (which can be challenging due to various levels of nested Silverlight structures), multithreading, and more.  He really doesn’t leave very many stones unturned in his explanation of the features.

I would highly recommend this book from Apress.  Although Silverlight 3 is coming soon, this book will help you understand those fundamentals that will be in the next version.