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Children's LiteraturePerfect for the pre-high school reader who wants to learn about Chemistry, this book takes us through the periodic table, group by group. Readers learn why, for example, the metalloids, halogens, alkaline earth metals, or the transition metals are grouped together. Each group is introduced with a bit of (unnecessary) verse, followed by a discussion of several of the more well-known elements in that group. The discussions are far-ranging, with information about common compounds the element is found in, who discovered the element and when, plus fascinating discussions of ancient use or how the element became so named. Did you know lead's Latin name is plumbum, its chemical symbol Pb, and that plumbing derives from it because ancient Romans made pipes from lead? The discussion of each group also features some experiments that demand a few purchases from the hardware store, but for the most part feature common household items. The experiments are clearly laid out with a discussion of what occurred and why. A "Take It to the Science Fair" suggestion and a small box of facts about each element give this book more depth for middle school readers. Teachers who cover aspects of chemistry in middle school may find some useful information for supplementing classroom work but the book appeals more to curious kids who just want to figure out more about how the world works. Cartoon line drawings, flip and funny headings full of puns, a lively format, and cross-referencing make this especially appealing. An index and table of contents support the learner in this hands-on entry in the "Kids Can!" series. 2003, Williamson Publishing Company, Ages 8 to 14.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.