Reviews for Chemical Elements: from Carbon to Krypton


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 May 1999
Designed especially for students in middle school, but also appropriate for high school, this three-volume introduction to the chemical elements meets its stated objective of providing "a valuable source of fundamental information for research reports, science fair projects, classroom demonstrations," and supplemental textbook information. The 112 elements of the periodic table are arranged alphabetically by chemical name, with the exception of elements 101^-112, which are discussed under the entry transfermium elements. Although the entries vary in length (e.g., actinium is three pages long, carbon is twelve pages), each follows the same format. The first page outlines "basic information about the chemical element: its chemical symbol, atomic number, atomic mass, family and pronunciation." It includes a diagram of an atom with the electrons arranged in energy levels outside the nucleus and the number of protons and neutrons indicated inside the nucleus. The entry then discusses the element's discovery and naming, physical and chemical properties, occurrence in nature, isotopes, methods of extraction, important compounds and uses, and health effects. Sidebars within the entries highlight commonly used terms, well-known products, interesting facts, and scientists.Access to the entries is provided by three tables of contents: by chemical name, by atomic number, and finally, by family group. A cumulative index in each volume provides still another means of access. The volumes also include a time line of the elements by year of discovery and a bibliography. The bibliography suggests print sources and Web sites on chemistry in general and on individual elements. Most of the print sources are copyrighted in the 1980s and 1990s, with many appropriate for the set's age group. More than 200 black-and-white illustrations and photographs, with three eight-page color-photo inserts, comprise the set's visuals. The black-and-white illustrations and photographs are often murky. The "Words to Know" sections function as a glossary and may prove useful for a science vocabulary lesson.Chemical Elements fits in nicely with other titles for this age group. Grolier's The Elements [RBB Ja 1 & 15 97], with its wonderful color photographs, does not discuss all the elements. Oxford's Guide to the Elements [RBB D 1 96] discusses all the elements, but the layout is not as report-writing friendly. Information on elements can be found in McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology (8th ed., 1997) and Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia (8th ed., 1994), but these are more appropriate for advanced-placement students. Given the reasonable price, consider purchasing one set for reference and two or three for circulation at report-writing time. Recommended for school and public libraries. ((Reviewed May 1, 1999)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Choice Reviews 1999 June
This "encyclopedia" describes each chemical element; a proper subtitle would have been "From Actinium to Zirconium." Each element is described in five to seven pages of reasonably up-to-date, readable information (the isotope paragraph, repeated 100 times, is irritating to readers). Newton should not have called neutrons "very small particles"; for the intended readership, a very small particle means "dust" or "sand." The author claims to provide fundamental information for research reports, science fair projects, and classroom demonstrations; this reviewer, reading about some 30 elements, saw no useful classroom demonstrations. These books might be useful in a high school or junior high library setting but not at higher educational levels. One wishes that the text had been proofread with a more critical eye, perhaps by a chemist: Rockets obtain power . . . by burning hydrogen and oxygen in a closed tank (p. 253); carbon-14 can be used to measure the thickness of objects such as sheets of steel; must the steel always be the same thickness? (p. 106); after properly defining spectra and spectrum on page 202, two lines later "spectra" is used where "spectrum" should be; "high speed" is correct: "high rate of speed" is not (p. 234-5). Copyright 1999 American Library Association

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School Library Journal Reviews 1999 August
Gr 7 Up-Each alphabetical entry in this set begins with a diagram of the element under discussion; a picture of its symbol; and information on its atomic number, mass, family group, and pronunciation. The clear and concise text that follows covers the element's discovery and naming; physical and chemical properties; occurrence in nature and methods of extraction; and its isotopes, compounds, uses, and health effects. Each element is covered in a separate article, except for the transfermium elements, which are grouped together. The relationships depicted in the periodic table are identified but not explained. However, there are good cross-references to other articles when two elements share some connections, e.g., potassium and argon. Sidebars present information on related topics, scientists, and the history of the science. "Words to Know" are listed in the margin. Some of the black-and-white and full-color illustrations are informative; others are merely decorative. Additional tables of contents of the elements arranged by atomic number and by family group are included. The up-to-date bibliography features many standard works on the subject and is supplemented by titles on specific elements, addresses of associations, and Web pages. This set compares favorably with Albert Stwertka's A Guide to the Elements (Oxford Univ., 1998). David Heiserman's Exploring Chemical Elements and Their Compounds (McGraw-Hill, 1991) is somewhat more technical. The multivolume Elements (Grolier, 1996) is more attractive and deals better with groups of elements but isn't as good at focusing on a single element as Newton's set.-Jeffrey A. French, Euclid Public Library, OH Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 1999 August
This jewel of a reference is by far the best of the UXL publications that this reviewer has seen. Relating stuffy sounding names of elements and an ominous periodic chart to real life is often difficult for youth. This three-volume set provides muchinformation on each element that is often difficult for students and teachers to find. The beauty of the periodic table as an organizing tool is brought to life by relating the elements to others in the same groupings, while describing the elementsalphabetically. A student can find the definition of word in a sidebar on the same page as the text for the element, in addition to a glossary at the beginning of the volume. A diagram showing the electron configuration accompanies the text for eachelement. A time line for discovery of the elements and references to historical events such as the Gold Rush and Oklahoma City bombing relate the elements to history. Applications to modern medicine and technology are frequently cited andillustrated. The organization of each entry simplifies locating specific information within each discussion. Youth of all ages will find the text inviting and readable, but comprehensive. My life as a science teacher would have been easier with this reference. It is a must-have for any library serving science teachers or students, not just for thereference shelf, but to be savored outside the library.-Marilyn Brien. Copyright 1999 Voya Reviews

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