Wonderful Life with the Elements
The Periodic Table Personified
Publisher: No Starch Press
Final Release Date: September 2012
Pages: 208

Get to Know the Elements!

From the brilliant mind of Japanese artist Bunpei Yorifuji comes Wonderful Life with the Elements, an illustrated guide to the periodic table that gives chemistry a friendly face.

In this super periodic table, every element is a unique character whose properties are represented visually: heavy elements are fat, man-made elements are robots, and noble gases sport impressive afros. Every detail is significant, from the length of an element's beard to the clothes on its back. You'll also learn about each element's discovery, its common uses, and other vital stats like whether it floats—or explodes—in water.

Why bother trudging through a traditional periodic table? In this periodic paradise, the elements are people too. And once you've met them, you'll never forget them.

Includes pull-out poster!

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oreillyWonderful Life with the Elements
 
4.7

(based on 3 reviews)

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100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Easy to understand (3)

Cons

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      4.0

      Fun and interesting

      By Remko

      from Belgium

      About Me Developer

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Accurate
      • Concise
      • Easy to understand
      • Helpful examples
      • Well-written

      Cons

        Best Uses

          Comments about oreilly Wonderful Life with the Elements:

          In Wonderful Life with the Elements, the Japanese author (and artist) Bunpei Yorifuji takes you through all the chemical elements in a playful, entertaining, and very graphical way.

          By representing each element as a cartoon character, mapping chemical features (such as atomic weight, state, special properties, …) onto human properties (body weight, hairstyle, clothes, …), and drawing the resulting characters in different (often humorous) situations, he illustrates the properties of each element, their history, and their use in every day life. Besides a detailed graphical description of each of the elements, the author also describes properties about the elements in general, discusses classifications, gives background on the periodic table, and puts everything into context.

          The drawings (which make up most of this book) are original, funny, and very nicely done. Small things like the Japanese name and Chinese character for each element give it a nice aesthetic touch, but are of course completely useless for an ignorant westerner like me. I learned quite a few interesting facts about chemical elements, things I either forgot, or never knew at all. It feels like the cartoons and the element "personifications" should make these things stick, but I can't say whether they will after just one read. Then again, if not, at least it will have been a very entertaining read, and I'll be happy to read it again as a refresher.

          My only (very minor) remarks are about the format. The PDF in which the eBook comes seems to be too tough to handle for some viewers: Preview.app choked on it and was missing graphics, but Acrobat Reader (and some built-in browser PDF viewers) seemed to display all graphics fine. Although the overall detail of the graphics throughout the book is good enough, the centerfold page (containing all the elements in the book in on one big poster, at least in the dead-tree version) is lacking in detail, and becomes ugly when you start zooming into the separate elements to the level you need to. This isn't really a blocker though, since all elements are displayed on a full page illustration later, but it would have been nice to have more detail there (or have vector-based graphics throughout the whole book). And finally, the book isn't hyperlinked at all, so you can't navigate easily from e.g. the index or the table of contents to the corresponding pages in the book.

          In summary, I really liked this book, and would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn (or refresh their knowledge) about the elements in a light and entertaining way.

          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Great intro to gen chem

          By MH

          from Shaker Hts, OH

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

          • Accurate
          • Easy to understand
          • Relevant Examples
          • Visual

          Cons

          • Too basic

          Best Uses

          • Student

          Comments about oreilly Wonderful Life with the Elements:

          This book helps readers appreciate the various periodic families and elements by personifying them. Of course, science instructors also anthropomorphize elements (chlorine is hungry for electrons, and sodium wants to get rid of them), but this book personifies to a greater degree than do most science instructors. The clothes elements wear, their hair-style, their physique, and if they walk, float or flow visually tell readers something about their properties.

          The first chapter looks at the distribution of elements in the universe, the sun, and the earth. It also looks at the elements found in living rooms during primitive, ancient, medieval and contemporary times. Chapter two introduces readers to the various families within the periodic table. Here readers are also introduced to what properties are represented by the various visual characteristics used to anthropomorphize them. Chapter two ends with the super periodic table. This is the regular periodic table, but instead of the standard element symbols, it shows people (the ones that personify the various elements).

          Chapter three is the bulk of the book. It profiles each element by listing its most exploited properties and its most common usage. In addition to the individual elements there are two supplementary sections at the end of the chapter. The first is titled Element Friends and outlines additional groups of elements. The second is titled Troublesome Elements and lists harmful compounds and their destructive traits.

          Chapter four focuses on the role of minerals in the body by listing in what foods they can be found, their functions in the body, and symptoms if one has too much or too little of a particular mineral. The chapter ends by showing what minerals can be found in a Japanese and European/American breakfast. Chapter five discusses the demand for certain elements that could lead to global shortages of those elements.

          The pages in this book are devoted to illustrations just as much as they are to words, and both blend well together. The learning (while whimsical) is relevant and memorable. However, this book is not a substitute for a chemistry course, but would work well to supplement one. Some readers may consider those elements not wearing anything below the waist indecent. This book is an excellent supplement to a high school or college level introductory general chemistry course.

          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          One of the coolest, most fun books ever

          By jmcaddell

          from Harrisburg, PA

          About Me Curious Learner, Maker

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

          • Easy to understand
          • Helpful examples
          • Well-written

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Student

            Comments about oreilly Wonderful Life with the Elements:

            I love books that combine words and drawings in an interesting way, and "Wonderful Life with the Elements" is an amazing example of this. It explains such an abstruse concept with quirky and useful diagrams, for example denoting elements as people and their classes (noble gases, earth metals, etc.) with different crazy hairstyles.

            I can't think of a better way to get kids interested in this basic chemistry concept. This book will be a reference for us for a long time. My 9- and 11-year-old sons agree.

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