The Periodic Table of Elements: Understanding the Building Blocks of Everything

First Second. (Science Comics). Mar. 2023. 128p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781250767608; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781250767615.
Gr 4-6–The latest title in this series reviews the elements and periodic table with help from a gaming adventure. Mel, who presents as Black, loves role-playing games, but is dreading tomorrow’s chemistry test. When she falls asleep, she drifts into a dream of the “Land of Elements.” There she has the chance to use her knowledge of the elements to thwart an evil Elemancer before he can “get up to some good old-fashioned villainy.” She and her companion, Hydrogen, must make their way through the Periodic Fortress by taking advantage of the weaknesses of metals, nonmetals, and other elements to reach the Elemancer and foil his plans. Mel’s explanations to Hydrogen cover the beginning of chemistry in classical times, the development of Mendeleev’s periodic table, chemical reactions and bonds, and even uses for various elements. Back matter includes the periodic table, a metric measurement conversion chart, a glossary, and bibliography.
VERDICT A fun scientific romp with a Black girl protagonist; perfect for middle grade readers who need a chemistry review or a clever introduction to the periodic table.

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