Discover More: The Elements by Dan Green | Book Review

21 May 2013 by GrrlScientist, posted in Book review, Chemistry

SUMMARY: crammed with gorgeous full-colour photographs and rich graphics, clear and concise writing, and large, easy-to-read font, this is the best chemistry primer I've ever read!

Did you know that the bamboo lemur consumes enough cyanide daily to kill a human? ...that Paris green paint, which gets its colour from arsenic, was so toxic that it was used as a rat poison as well for painting masterpieces? ...that there is a lump of crystallised carbon (a diamond) that is 3,000 kilometers (1,865 miles) wide that weighs roughly 2.5 thousand trillion trillion tonnes in the core of a white dwarf star in the constellation Centaurus?

If you enjoy learning interesting facts such as these, then you will love Dan Green's informative book, Discover More: The Elements [Scholastic Children's Books, 2012; Amazon UK; Amazon US]. Although this is a children's book, it is so well written and researched that I think most adults will love it, too.

This large flexi-cover book is printed on heavy glossy paper, and is crammed with gorgeous full-colour photographs and rich graphics, clear and concise writing, and large, easy-to-read font. The book starts by describing what elements are and where they came from and then moves on to provide a close-up examination of each element, who discovered it and when, and discusses its historical and contemporary uses. More than just a recitation of dry facts, this lively book tells the story of each element and includes hundreds of remarkable facts that make it a joy to read. It also includes some basic "kitchen science" experiments that illustrate some of the concepts discussed in the book.

The book follows the periodic table groups and each section starts by asking several questions that are answered in the following chapter. I really liked the graphics that show what is happening at the atomic level when a reaction occurs, and I was impressed by the photo series of experiments that appear in this book, so the reader can see what happens when, for example, sodium is added to water. The book has 112 pages and includes a useful glossary and index.

Shortlisted for the 2013 Royal Society Young People's Book Prize, I highly recommend this informative and accessible book for children and for school libraries -- and even for adults who wish to painlessly review the chemistry they either forgot or never had the pleasure to learn.

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

NOTE: this piece is slightly edited from the original, which was published on the Guardian.

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

GrrlScientist is an evolutionary biologist, ornithologist and freelance science writer who writes about the interface between evolution, ethology and ecology, especially in birds. As a judge who helped select the 2013 Royal Society Young People's Book Prize shortlist, she also has a deep passion for good books, especially good science books, which she reviews with some regularity. You can follow Grrlscientist's work on her eponymous Guardian blog, and also on facebook, G+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and of course, twitter: @GrrlScientist

Leave a Reply


× six = 12