Dates are closer than they look on the calendar. For the past few months I’ve known that my debut picture book, 13 Ways to Eat a Fly (illustrated by David Clark) releases mid-February. Which sounds so far away. Except it’s only two and a half weeks from now… While it’s hard to think about flies in the dead of winter, longer days are coming and soon those busy buzzy (sometimes) bothersome flies will make their presence known.
Meanwhile, I want to share this fun book about elements. If I’d had a book like this in school, I think I would have a better handle on chemistry.
by Isabel Thomas; illus. by Sara Gillingham
224 pages; ages 8-12
Phaidon Press, 2020
I was drawn to this book by the cover: bright graphics that carry into the interior. You know what’s cool? The table of contents is set up like a periodic table.
“Elements are the building blocks of everything, from distant stars to the ground under your feet, from the pages of this book to the person reading it,” writes Isabel Thomas. Imagine that! Everything in the universe made up of 92 basic ingredients!
An introduction explains atoms, the categories of the periodic table, where various elements are found, and “how to use this book” – similar to how field guides are set up. Each chapter includes a collection of elements that have things in common. Sometimes those categories align with the groups of the periodic table. Other times, not so much.
Each entry provides the atomic number of the element. (That’s the number of protons in the atoms of that element, for those of you that have forgotten.) It shows the element’s symbol, shows its position in the periodic table, and provides icons that let you know some key facts at a glance. Then it lists important properties, tells where the element is found in nature, and whether it’s found in the human body.
Down in the right-hand corner there’s a drawing showing how electrons are arranged. An “about section tells all about the element, and the “secret” box tells about the secrets of chemistry and physics that cause the element to behave the way it does. In addition, each entry also includes a gallery of “forms and uses” – from paint to gems to medicine.
To help make it easy to find stuff, each chapter is color-coded. So Alkali Metals have green pages, Transition Metals are goldenrod, and Metalloids are purple. At the back there’s plenty of historical stuff and reference tables.
And if you take the book jacket off, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that the inside is a periodic table. So you can tape it to the wall above your desk for easy reference and make a new book jacket out of a brown paper bag (assuming you can get those anymore).
Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.