Could make a chemist out of anyone.



An illustrated guide to the periodic table and all 118 discovered elements.

Chic, minimalist illustrations and clear, engaging text combine in a striking and attractive design. An introduction describes elements (“the building blocks of everything”), chemistry (“the scientific study of all the different substances we find around us”), and the periodic table (“an important map, telling chemists and other scientists where to look when they are trying to answer a question, invent a new material, or solve a problem”). In the chapters that follow, based on categories that group similar elements together, each element gets a two-page spread of its own. One page shows the element’s atomic diagram, key properties, and main sources together with several paragraphs about its history and characteristics. The second page shows illustrations of the element’s significant forms, like “gemstones” for aluminum (rubies and sapphires are aluminum oxide crystals), and uses, such as “violet fireworks” for rubidium. Some less-common elements have shorter sections. Clean lines, scrupulous organization, and a palette based in primary colors present this complex information in a simple and pleasing way. Included with depictions of several White European scientists is an illustration of African American chemist James Andrew Harris. Written with infectious enthusiasm for science, the text also acknowledges the hard truth about technology: “Many of the elements used to make smartphones and other devices are quickly running out. Mining and using what is left is putting tremendous pressure on our planet.”

Could make a chemist out of anyone. (tables of elemental properties, recommended sources, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-83866-231-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.


In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A splendid volume for young adventurers.



Based on her work with middle-school students, Long offers lessons on how to stay healthy and out of trouble while awaiting rescue, the same lessons taught to adults in her survival classes.

Her matter-of-fact, no-nonsense tone will play well with young readers, and the clear writing style is appropriate to the content. The engaging guide covers everything from building shelters to avoiding pigs and javelinas. With subjects like kissing bugs, scorpions, snow blindness and “How going to the bathroom can attract bears and mountain lions,” the volume invites browsing as much as studying. The information offered is sometimes obvious: “If you find yourself facing an alligator, get away from it”; sometime humorous: Raccoons will “fight with your dog, steal all your food, then climb up a tree and call you bad names in raccoon language”; and sometimes not comforting: “When alligators attack on land, they usually make one grab at you; if they miss, you are usually safe.” But when survival is at stake, the more information the better, especially when leavened with some wit. An excellent bibliography will lead young readers to a host of fascinating websites, and 150 clipart-style line drawings complement the text.

A splendid volume for young adventurers. (index not seen) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56976-708-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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