Elitist Beryllium, Know-It-All Carbon, and Other Personified Ways to Learn the Periodic Table

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The elements that make up our bodies and the world around us imagined as superheroes.
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As a lover of children's books, especially illustrated science-inspired and nonfiction children's books, I was instantly smitten with Wonderful Life with the Elements: The Periodic Table Personified (public library) by Japanese artist Bunpei Yorifuji, whose ingenious subway etiquette posters you might recall.

Lively and irreverent, this comic-inspired take on the Periodic Table gives each of the 118 known elements a distinctive character, with attitude and style reflective of the element's respective chemical properties, era of discovery, and natural states. From Carbon's ancient beard to the Nitrogen family's rebellious mohawks to Hydrogen's boastful might, the charming micro-vignettes nudge the young reader towards that ever-marvelous space where science and whimsy intersect.

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Inside, there's even a beautiful large-format poster of the entire personified Periodic Table:

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Wonderful Life with the Elements comes from geek culture connoisseurs No Scratch Press, who previously gave us The Cult of LEGO, and is the best thing since They Might Be Giants' animated homage to the elements from their 2009 album, Here Comes Science

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This post also appears on Brain Pickings, an Atlantic partner site.

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Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

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