Guest Author - Lorel Shea
I have good news for fans of the quirky kid's guide to chemistry, “The Periodic Table, Elements with Style”. Kingfisher Publishing has produced two related books, which cover biology and physics. The artist known simply as Basher has teamed up with a new writing partner, Dan Green. These pocket sized guidebooks are captivating and make a real impression on kids. Because the books are formatted in the same way, I am reviewing them together.
Both books have about 120 pages plus a glossary. The left hand page usually has a topic, a few bullet points on it, and two paragraphs presenting information from the point of view of the topic. Each subject has it's own personality and the right hand page has a personified illustration of that subject. In the Biology book, Sperm, for instance, says, “I'm a little guy with a big job.” For those who wish to consider the appropriateness of the books for younger children, he does get a bit more specific. “I Start out in one of the two testes, a man's sperm factories, and travel upstream towards the penis... If everything is going swimmingly, I enter a female body and it takes an hour or so to get to Egg.” The whimsical cartoony illustration shows a smiling tadpole-like creature wearing sunglasses. There is also a tiny, simplified 1” tall rendering of the male reproductive system. The information on Egg and Baby in Womb is also quite simple but may be upsetting to some. “Biology, Life as We Know It” also contains a small pull out poster of the body systems. Some examples of other topics in the biology book include Skin, Nails, Reptiles, Liver, and Flower.
The physics book is titled, “Physics, Why Matter Matters” and it has definitions of terms like Kinetic Energy, Frequency, Alpha Particle, and Gravity. The introduction notes, “Physics is all about knowing -or trying to find out- what makes the universe tick. It started out with some naturally nosy people who wanted to know...” The description of Force says that it, “Gangs up with Mass and Acceleration to push things about.” Infrared boasts, “You can run but you can't hide. I'm the original heatseeker and I'm out to give you a good grilling!”
These books might help older students memorize details just as well as they inform and entertain younger children. Highly recommended!