ABBOTT, Megan. Dare Me: A Novel. 304p. Little, Brown. 2012. Tr $24.99. ISBN 978-0-316-09777-2. LC 2011051323.
Adult/High School–Abbott takes the mythology of cheerleading and stands it on its sharpest edge. There’s not much bubbly or perky about these girls–they are hard in mind and body. Accustomed to the inherent privileges of being worshipped and feared from afar, the actual cheerleading has become incidental. For them, there hasn’t been much in life beyond practice, binge-drinking, hook-ups, and managing their eating disorders. Beth made the rules as captain, and the squad ruled the school. Then Coach arrives and brings with her a whole new Darwinian order. The unthinkable happens. Beth is no longer captain and her hold on the girls is gone. Her “lieutenant,” Addy, narrates the events. Coach brings discipline, integrity, and technique to the squad and in so doing becomes Addy’s obsession. She and the rest of the squad, in cultlike fashion, live for the smallest bit of attention from their leader. Coach lets the girls into her personal life while simmering in the background is Beth, and Addy knows Beth always gets the upper hand no matter the cost. A sudden, suspicious death brings with it Beth’s opportunity for dominance. The psychology of the relationships creates a singularly dark atmosphere that goes way beyond Mean Girls. Brilliantly sharp writing raises this work to a level above typical expectations. Whether it’s the description of life-threatening stunts or the inner logic of a teen desperate for connection, Abbott’s prose creates a compelling and unsettling read for mature teens.–Priscille Dando, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
ANDERSON, Howard. Albert of Adelaide: A Novel. 225p. Twelve. 2012. Tr $24.99. ISBN 978-1-4555-0962-1. LC 2011045203.
Adult/High School–One thing Albert knows for certain: Living encaged in a zoo is no life at all. He has heard rumors from other zoo animals of a place known as Old Australia, where things haven’t changed and animals still run free. So, like any platypus that yearns for the rush of river water and the company of mates, he quits the zoo, taking with him only a soda bottle filled with water. His journey soon becomes one of swashbuckling adventure, as Albert finds himself in the middle of turf wars and long-standing enmities amid the animals living in the Australian Outback. As distinctly drawn as Albert’s own earnest and brave character are those of his new friends, Jack the embittered wombat and American-born TJ, a thieving raccoon of honor and courage. While the arc of the story is simple–young platypus grows in self-understanding as he experiences the good and evil of the world–the setting is fabulously exotic. The landscape of the Northern Territory, and, more importantly, the extraordinary native animals, increase the book’s fantastical mystique. It’s tempting to compare this novel to others that feature talking animals, but it’s really more closely related to shoot-‘em-up-westerns or war stories. For most teens, this will be an out-of-the box recommendation. Adventurous readers will appreciate the quirky pretext for a hearty coming-of-age story Down Under.–Diane Colson, Palm Harbor Library, FL
CHEN, Pauline A.. The Red Chamber. 400p. Knopf. 2012. Tr $26.95. ISBN 978-0-307-70157-2. LC 2012005050.
Adult/High School– The Red Chamber follows the story of three members of the wealthy Jia family in 18th century Beijing. Daiyu, Xifeng, and Baochai live within a tightly knit closed society that allows them only limited access to life outside their splendid mansion. Their only power is contained within their closed chambers, and the story centers on their many complex relationships. Xifeng, the childless wife of the head of the family, rules with an iron fist over the other women. Daiyu, a young orphaned cousin newly arrived from the south, hopes to find comfort with her extended family but instead finds it difficult to enter their world. She befriends another young cousin, Baochai, but when they discover that they both love the same man, their friendship breaks down. Just as there are many servants, concubines, children, parents, and cousins living in household, there are many characters in this story and many side plot lines that create a unique view of life and politics in the Beijing of the 1700’s. The three women’s lives intersect not only within their chambers, but each must survive as the winds of politics change their sheltered lives. Inspired by a literary classic of the 18th century, this important piece of Chinese tradition gives Western readers insight into a fascinating culture. With so many characters and events, it’s difficult to follow at first but perseverance will open up this engaging story, and as each character unfolds, the story compels further reading. Recommend this to teens who love history, Asia, romance, and complex story lines.—Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA
FISHMAN, Zoe. Saving Ruth. 304p. Morrow. 2012. pap. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-06-205984-0. LC 2011275350.
Adult/High School–After her first year of college in Michigan, Ruth Wasserman returns home to Alabama 35 pounds lighter but still carrying around all her old insecurities about her looks. She is met at the airport by David, her athletic, smart older brother who evades her questions about his own life in college. As Ruth meets up with old friends, soothes her parents’ fears about her new ultra-skinny look, and starts dating David’s old best friend, Chris, she returns to work alongside David as a lifeguard at the local pool. When David gets high just before work one day and a young black girl slips underwater, it is up to Ruth to be clear-headed and save her. Ruth begins to realize that things are not as they seem. Not only do David’s lies about his soccer scholarship begin to unravel, but she suspects problems in her parents’ relationship. When she is hired to help a young girl lose weight, she finally confronts her own issues so that she can help her young charge avoid a similar path to an eating disorder. This is a well written, quick read with wide teen appeal. Ruth is believable, and her dialogue with David is in true sibling form. The characters are not stereotyped, and the complicated racial tensions, along with Ruth’s concern about beauty and conformity, convey the unique culture of one small southern town.–Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA
GRANT, Mira. Blackout. Bk. 3. 574p. (Newsflesh Trilogy). Orbit. 2012. pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-84149-900-0. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Readers who have followed this trilogy from the beginning will be relieved to find that Georgia Mason is 97% resurrected and back in action. In this final book, set in 2041, death by zombie is less a threat for the After the End Time bloggers than death by assassination by the Center for Disease Control. The pace picks up with Georgia and Shaun Mason alternating narration as each one uncovers parts of the horrific conspiracy that keeps the Kellis-Amberlee virus alive and deadly. In each of the three books, the tension has a different timbre: Feed (2010) is bloody and edgy, while Deadline (2011, both Orbit) is darkly taut. Blackout has the spiraling, out-of-control terror of an impending collision. The “Newsflesh Trilogy” has tremendous appeal for older teens who enjoy a combination of science and action, with an overlay of forbidden romance throughout. It’s possible to start with the final volume, despite the many resolutions to the storyline. Most likely it will whet readers’ appetites for more. Fortunately for fans, Grant published a prequel novella, Countdown (2011). It takes readers back in time to the earliest developments that led to the virus and introduces characters who figure largely in the trilogy. There is always the chance that more bits of the story will yet emerge from Grant, as readers will certainly wonder what happens to these familiar characters next.–Diane Colson, Palm Harbor Library, FL
GREENSLADE, Frances. Shelter. 400p. Free Pr. 2012. pap. $15. ISBN 978-1-4516-6110-1. LC 2011028539.
Adult/High School–Maggie and Jenny are living in rural British Columbia in the 1970s. They are 10- and 12-years-old when their father dies, and not much older when their mother leaves them at the home of an older couple they barely know. For a few years, they hear from her occasionally, but eventually she disappears forever. Maggie narrates the story, struggling to understand something about who her parents were, why her mother left, and why she and Jenny didn’t try to find her. Maggie is bright, thoughtful, and independent, while Jenny is charming and outgoing like her mother. Maggie, more cautious like her father, approaches life warily, albeit with great resourcefulness. When Jenny becomes pregnant, Maggie decides that she must find out what happened to their mother. Not a lot goes on in this novel, but readers are nevertheless drawn inexorably forward by Maggie’s longing for a real family, by her loyalty to Jenny, and by her few close friendships. The setting is so clearly drawn as to be almost a character in its own right. This is a quiet but deeply felt book, for readers who liked Bobbie Ann Mason’s In Country (Harper, 1985) or Kent Haruf’s Plainsong (Knopf, 1999).–Sarah Flowers, formerly at Santa Clara County Library, CA
KEESEY, Anna. Little Century. 336p. Farrar. 2012. Tr $26. ISBN 978-0-374-19204-4. LC 2011046308.
Adult/High School–Newly orphaned following the death of her mother, 18-year-old Esther Chambers lands in Century, Oregon with few options. Her only remaining relative, distant cousin Pick, has offered to set her up as a homesteader on land adjoining his ranch. But what does a girl from Chicago know about frontier living? Esther must learn to farm, care for her horse, and, most importantly, become a part of the community. The cattlemen of Two Forks Ranch are at odds with the sheepherders over grazing rights on parched, arid land. Esther finds herself making alliances on both sides as she struggles to understand a feud rife with unconscionable behavior. To complicate matters, she finds herself with a pair of suitors–handsome and established cattleman Pick, and magnetic Ben Cruff, an idealistic young sheepherder. Esther’s choice and its consequences will keep readers transfixed. Teens will be drawn in by an intelligent and independent heroine who follows both her head and heart as she comes of age and takes charge of her life. Compelling and engaging, Little Century explores the everyday struggles of pioneers in an approachable context. Keesey does a superb job fleshing out the secondary characters who populate Century, including an eccentric shopkeeper with a lending library and a love of nature, and the fiery, welcoming schoolteacher who teaches Esther to split her skirts to make more practical riding attire. Fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s prairie tales will happily fall into this page-turner.–Paula Gallagher, Baltimore County Public Library, MD
LOCKE, Kate. God Save the Queen. 368p. maps. glossary. Orbit. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-19612-3. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–In a reimagined Great Britain, a mutated form of the bubonic plague has taken root among the nation’s royalty, causing the infected to acquire certain abilities and sensitivities. The plague first appeared in the 1700’s; by the time of this story, Queen Victoria, an immortal vampire, is 175 years into her reign and the aristocracy consists solely of vampires and werewolves. The rest of the population consists of halvies, the offspring of vampire “aristo’s” and human courtesans; goblins, the greatly feared offspring of one were and one vampire parent; and humans, who don’t hide their hatred of the other groups, and are generally kept at a distance. In this first volume of the Immortal Empire series, readers meet Alexandra Vardan, daughter of an aristo vampire and a human mother. As a member of the Queen’s Royal Guard, Xandra is completely loyal to the crown and is indeed sworn to protect it. But a search for her missing sister changes everything. It starts with a trip underground to meet with the goblin prince and ends up with everything Xandra believes about her family, England’s social structure, and even herself being turned upside down. Locke’s rich detail draws readers into this fascinating world, making the journey with Xandra thrilling, frightening, and shocking. Her romance with a sexy aristo werewolf adds spice but never detracts from the action. This paranormal/political thriller mash-up (with a light sprinkling of steampunk) is sure to engage teens who enjoy exciting, genre-blurring stories.–Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, CA
RATNER, Vaddey. In the Shadow of the Banyan. 336p. S & S. 2012. Tr $25. ISBN 978-1-4516-5770-8. LC 2011033320.
Adult/High School–Seven year-old Raami’s world is forever changed when the Khmer Rouge drive her family from their home. Her father is a Cambodian prince, her grandmother a queen, but in the eyes of the black-clad young soldiers, they are merely citizens to be rounded up in the name of the revolution. Forced to flee with little more than the clothes on their backs, they have nothing but one another. But no one can foresee the events to come, as one by one those closest to Raami are taken from her. Ratner’s evocative, lyrical prose transports readers to the Cambodia of her childhood, a land of contemplative Buddhist temples abruptly outlawed and jewel-toned clothing forcibly dyed black. The novel is an utterly engaging portrait of familial love and sacrifice, a bleak story that manages to retain a sense of warmth and optimism through the eyes of precocious young Raami. Teens who enjoy dystopian fiction may be surprised to find a historical novel with familiar themes of violence, destruction, and cruelty in the name of a so-called better society. The Organization promises to provide and take care of its citizens, but it does not. Survival depends on the kindness of strangers. The author carefully balances harsh realities with the touchstones of hope that Raami holds near. Traditional stories of the Buddha comfort her, and her beloved father, she believes, watches over her in the form of the moon. Accessible and profoundly moving, In the Shadow of the Banyan is destined to become a classic.–Paula Gallagher, Baltimore County Public Library, MD
SCALZI, John. Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas. 320p. Tor. 2012. Tr $24.99. ISBN 978-0765316998; spiral $11.99. ISBN 978-1429963602. LC 201009383.
Adult/High School–As even casual fans of Star Trek know, any time redshirt-wearing extras go off the ship with Kirk, Spock, McCoy, or one of the other big stars, they don’t come back alive. Scalzi’s latest novel takes that idea and runs with it wildly and hilariously, adding the metafictional conceit that the characters of the book are the real-life counterparts of characters on a poorly written basic-cable TV show from some 400 years earlier, and that whatever happens on the show happens to them. A new group of ensigns on the Universal Union (“Dub U”) flagship Intrepid begins to notice odd things: new crew members have a very high mortality rate; whenever Captain Abernathy or Science Officer Q’eeng appears, the rest of the crew mysteriously disappear to fetch coffee, inventory the stock room, or go on an urgent errand; a mysterious “box” comes up with solutions to problems just in the nick of time; and a strange bearded guy who seems to know something about what he calls “the Narrative” lurks in the maintenance tunnels. Ensign Andy Dahl and his friends set out to figure out how they can use the Narrative to keep themselves from being killed off, and their discussions along the way are, as the characters themselves note, as existential and metaphysical (and funny) as late-night dorm-room conversations. Fans of Jasper Fforde’s “Thursday Next” novels and those who enjoyed Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One (Crown, 2011) are natural audiences for this one.–Sarah Flowers, formerly of Santa Clara County Library, CA
SEMPLE, Maria. Where’d You Go, Bernadette. 336p. Little, Brown. 2012. Tr $25.99. ISBN 978-0-316-20427-9. LC 2011040639.
Adult/High School–Bee Branch’s eighth-grade Galer Street School report card describes her as a pure delight, and the same can be said for Semple’s smart, funny novel. As a reward for years of perfect grades, Bee’s parents grant her request for a family trip to Antarctica over the Christmas vacation. Unfortunately, her mother, Bernadette, disappears two days before their scheduled departure. Bee’s narrative of events is interspersed with letters and e-mails between various players–of special note, Bernadette’s correspondence with Manjula Kapour, her too-good-to-be-true virtual assistant in India, who arranges the trip to Antarctica, reservations for Thanksgiving dinner, and anything else Bernadette requires, all for seventy-five cents an hour, and the exchanges between two Galer Street mothers (Bernadette calls them The Gnats) who share their horror and frustration at Bernadette’s lifestyle and choices. A portrait of Bernadette slowly emerges as a recluse who rarely leaves the house. She is devoted to her daughter, dismissive of life in Seattle (which she skewers mercilessly), and increasingly distant from her superstar workaholic Microsoft executive husband, Elgin. When Bernadette gets wind of Elgin’s plan to have her committed, she flees. In the aftermath of her disappearance, readers learn of Bernadette’s surprising, hidden past. It all comes together when Elgin and Bee travel to Antarctica alone, where Bee is stubbornly certain she will find her mother. The denouement is both wacky and moving. Part witty social satire, part family drama, part warning against the perils of stifled creativity, this novel is highly recommended. Even though she mostly addresses adult concerns, Semple’s humor and humanity-filled storytelling will appeal to young adult readers, too.–Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City
GRANDE, Reyna. The Distance Between Us: A Memoir. 336p. photos. Atria. 2012. Tr $25. ISBN 978-1-4516-6177-4. LC 2012001634.
Adult/High School–When Grande was two years old, her father left her family in Mexico to go to “El Otro Lado,” the United States, where he could find work and send money back home. Two years later, El Otro Lado took her mother also; and the author, her sister Mago and her brother Carlos were sent to their grandmother, Abuela Evila. Her abuse and neglect, along with grinding poverty brought near starvation, deprivation, and little love to the children. With no electricity, no running water, no source of healthy food, they lived in Cinderella fashion while their grandmother took the money from their father and bestowed it on her cousin. When news reached them that their parents had a new baby, Grande was certain that they were forgotten. Soon their mother returned with news of her divorce and told them that their father had a new American wife. When their father briefly returned, they begged to go back with him. He grudgingly agreed and they traveled to Los Angeles with the help of a Coyote, enrolled in school and began new lives striving to become American citizens. It wasn’t easy but Grande stuck with it to become the first college graduate in her family. She never flinches in describing her surroundings and feelings, while her resilience and ability to empathize allow her to look back with a compassion that makes this story one that everyone should read.–Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA
ROSS, Richard. Juvenile in Justice. photos by author. 98p. photos. notes. 2012. Tr $29.95. ISBN 978-0-9855106-0-2. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Award winning photographer Ross spent more than 5 years speaking with 1000 youth confined in more than 200 juvenile detention facilities in 31 states. The result is a profound and provocative visual narrative, accompanied by stark facts. Portraits are accompanied by a quote from the youth or staff or a short narrative explanation. Each young person (anonymous for legal reasons) is captured in haunting and thought provoking ways. Statistics such as “Nearly 3 of every 4 youth confined … are not in for a serious violent felony crime” or “Black youth are 9 times as likely to be sentenced to adult prisons as white youth” are presented one to a page. The ironies and contradictions inherent in the system unfold perfectly with the visuals of facilities and accompanying text. For example, “The state of California spends $224,712 annually to house a juvenile in the new “green” Oakland facility. Oakland spent $4,945 on the education of a child in the Oakland public school system” is accompanied by a sign proclaiming the use of pepper spray (not exactly “green”). Montages of themed images such as food trays, “time out” rooms, and restraining devices tell the story in a way nothing else can. Considering that over 70,000 youth spend the night in lockdown facilities across the country every night, this book is of intense interest to teens. Reluctant readers will be jostling each other to get a glimpse, drawn into the visual story, and motivated to read for a deeper understanding. The preface, forward, afterword, and notes provide additional insight and empowerment for all teen readers.–Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Juvenile Hall, CA
WEDDAY, Nasser, ed & Sohrab Ahmari. Arab Spring Dreams: The Next Generation Speaks Out for Freedom and Justice from North Arica to Iran. 235p. Palgrave Macmillan. 2012. pap. $17. ISBN 978-0-230-11592-7. LC 2011040448.
Adult/High School– Since 2005, the American Islamic Congress has sponsored an essay contest for young writers living in Arab nations. The entrants can select from a variety of questions, and write in English, French or Arabic; more recent contests also include a video option. Compiled here are some of the best essays from the last several years of the contest. By nature of the contest and the AIC, the essays support a basic political ideology – that of more civil rights in their region. To assist readers unfamiliar with the political nuances and history of the Arab nations, each essay has an introduction that sets the stage. The essays often echo Civil Rights struggles familiar to Westerners. Gay rights: the first entry in the book is a fictionalized account, written by an Egyptian woman, of a gay man trying to meet other men online; Women’s rights: “A Persian Grandmother in Tokyo” is by a young Iranian woman who witnessed the world through the eyes of her grandmother when they visited Japan together; Religious rights: “The Shredded Exam Card,” also from Iran, is about the fierce persecution against those of the Bahai faith, who are not even allowed to attend college. There are also essays regarding race discrimination, whether between Arabs and black Africans, or Arabs of different descent. Many of the entries were submitted anonymously, out of fear of persecution. However, some are not, including the Egyptian Dalia Ziada, who now runs the AIC office in Cairo which sponsors the Cairo Human Rights Film Festival. These essays make an excellent real-life companion to current Arab studies.–Jamie Watson, Baltimore County Public Library, MD
DE HEER, Margreet. Philosophy: A Discovery in Comics. tr. by Emma Ringelberg and Dan Schiff from Dutch. illus. by author. 119p. NBM. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-56163-698-3. LC 2012938931.
Adult/High School–Colorful, clever, and bouncy cartoons provide an educated philosophy scholar-cartoonist with the method for engaging and informing casual readers about the why and how of Western philosophy’s foundations and development. De Heer opens the discussion by providing an admirably direct and charming exploration of her own philosophical mind, from preschool aged wonders and questions, through her journey through academia and into the comics field. While brevity of panel count forces her to hit only the highest highlights of the likes of Aristotle and Spinozaa–along with the other dozen or so specific “big names” she treats–the narrative frame she uses allows readers to understand that there are reasons for these particular individual thinkers to be called out as important and where to look for more by any one of them. Book colorist Yiri Kohl stands as his wife’s interlocutor during the narrative, suggesting where her first run at an explanation needs help and demonstrating how discussion aids clarity of thought. A final section offers the personal philosophies of four of de Heer’s friends, an added invitation to readers to think on their own. The panels throughout, besides being beautifully watercolored, are full of movement and energy as their enclosed concepts unfold and cycle from and around other aspects of philosophy’s history. All in all, this is an accessible and fun primer on a topic that too often is considered to be musty and shrouded in academic argot.–Francisca Goldsmith, Infopeople Project, CA
GERALD, Kelly, ed. Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons. illus. by Flannery O’Connor. 141p. illus. notes. Fantagraphics. 2012. Tr $22.99. ISBN 978-1-60699-479-5. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Best known for her highly ironic and iconic short stories, O’Connor began her creative life when she was a preschooler; during her youth and college years she developed increasingly in the visual arts, rather than through writing. This beautifully produced retrospective of her linoleum block cartoons, along with some sketches and drawings, shows the incisive, witty and genuinely original “voice” of an excellent observer, just as her later fiction (A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Wise Blood) demonstrates. Moser’s brief introduction gives readers unfamiliar with block-print techniques enough information to understand the flexible attitudes of O’Connor’s chosen printing medium, while Kelly Gerald’s essay and captioning serves as eloquent and substantive discussion of the artist’s interests as expressed in these cartoons. O’Connor’s viewpoint as a college student during the early years of World War II at an all-female Southern institution adds another layer of texture, too, for contemporary teen artists and observers of places and situations that fall outside popular media’s scope.–Francisca Goldsmith, Infopeople Project, CA
MCCOOL, Ben. Nevsky: A Hero of the People. illus. by Mario Guevara. 128p. illus. appendix. IDW Pub. 2012. Tr $24.99. ISBN 978-1613771815. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Alexander Nevsky is a legendary figure informing Russian identity, holding a role not dissimilar from that of Robert the Bruce for the Scots or Hercules for the ancient Greeks. When Soviet Russian film writer and director Sergei Eisenstein created his 1938 masterpiece Ilya Muromets,based on this 13th-century hero, he used the epic cinematography then in vogue to display artfully and artistically foreshadowing of the rise of the Third Reich without letting the modern encroachment of the Germans compromise the sanctity of a legend of Nevsky as Russia’s saving warrior. McCool and Guevara have united in this retelling to capture a coherent and exciting narrative of Nevsky’s triumph against the invaders with beautifully colored and richly detailed spreads that echo Eisenstein’s cinematography. Character development–including that of a Russian queen, a Teutonic spy, and a brave peasant girl warrior, as well as Nevsky, of course–is rendered quickly and solidly. All manner of political realities can be identified in the tale, from those of the 13th and 20th centuries to the role a true hero could take as a model today. Much added matter in the volume makes this a viable text for students interested in aspects of European history, military science, and legends as ripe for presentation through a variety of media, including film and comics.– Francisca Goldsmith, Infopeople Project, CA
YORFUJI, Bunpei. tr. from Japanese by Fredrik Lindh. Wonderful Life with the Elements: The Periodic Table Personified. illus. by author. 208p. charts. diags. illus. index. No Starch. 2012. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-1-59327-423-8. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–This clever and effective little book could have the power to make chemistry literates of students, and their parents. While curriculum design in history has moved away from brute memorization of the raw material of dates and place names, the entryway to learning the Periodic Table continues to be, for most, learning the printed pattern and what the various Latin abbreviations and corners of each element block signify, rather than what any of this means. The unique, humorous and diligently complete treatment found here, however, turns that flat code collection into meaningful properties, attributes, and connections. Each element is depicted with a particular hairstyle, body type and clothing type–not chosen at random, but as representative of stability, weight, and usage in our daily lives. Each element is then treated to a page of depiction, references through smaller drawings to everyday items in which it occurs, and a paragraph of discussion that provides up-to-date context such as Vanadium’s possible contribution to lowering blood pressure and Tantelum’s use in mobile phone technology. Additional chapters discuss the elements related to diet, human anatomy, and current depletion due to modern mining and production of modern material culture. The art is both sweet and clear, with brown and yellow cartoons on uncluttered pages that pack a wallop of information which, indeed, brings the Periodic Table to life and meaningfulness.–Francisca Goldsmith, Infopeople Project, CA