Cats are good at hiding. This is probably why, in our human stories, we like to anthropomorphise cats and imagine they are in disguise. This probably accounts partly for why cats are the number one suspect when it comes to witches’ familiars. Humans have the ability to ‘know’ something is there, even if there is zero evidence, e.g. witches. We also have the ability to attribute intent where none is there; a bug in our comparatively advanced cognitive empathy.
The elements : a visual exploration of every known atom in the universe by Theodore Gray and Nick Mann (2009)
This book has garnered a cult following with adults as much as with kids. This may partly be to do with the fact that they released an impressive app for iPad back when the iPad was very new, allowing users to see elements in 3D.
Based on seven years of research and photography by Theodore Gray and Nick Mann, The Elements presents the most complete and visually arresting representation available to the naked eye of every atom in the universe. Organized sequentially by atomic number, every element is represented by a big beautiful photograph that most closely represents it in its purest form. Several additional photographs show each element in slightly altered forms or as used in various practical ways. Also included are fascinating stories of the elements, as well as data on the properties of each, including atomic number, atomic symbol, atomic weight, density, atomic radius, as well as scales for electron filling order, state of matter, and an atomic emission spectrum.
The Element in the Room: Investigating the Atomic Ingredients that Make Up Your Home by Mike Barfield and Lauren Humphrey (2018)
My kid loves this one.
Did you know that without the “lead” in your pencil, there would be no life on Earth? Just about everything in the universe is made from only 92 elements – and from aluminum to zinc, many of them are hiding in your very own home!
This funny and fascinating guide is bursting with brilliant facts about the atomic ingredients that make up everything around us. Join scientific sleuth Sherlock Ohms as he investigates the elements, and help his enquiries with explosive experiments.
Wonderful Life With The Elements: The Periodic Table Personified (2009) by Bunpei Yorifuji and Fredrik Lindh (Translator)
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!
Exploring The Elements by Isabel Thomas and Sara Gillingham (2020)
– A comprehensive introduction explaining what elements are and the design and purpose of the periodic table
– Each of the 118 elements is visually presented with its respective letter symbol and atomic number, as well as a map of where it’s located in the periodic table
– Additional details showing where each element is found in the universe (from food on our plates to the center of a star), its unique properties, atomic diagram, secret chemistry, and working examples of how it’s used or changing the world
– An index, glossary and suggested reading and additional references and Resources
The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean (2019)
A young readers adaptation of the New York Times bestselling book, THE DISAPPEARING SPOON , chronicling the extraordinary human history of the periodic table.
Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I, 53)? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium (Cd, 48)? How did radium (Ra, 88) nearly ruin Marie Curie’s reputation? And why did tellurium (Te, 52) lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history?
The periodic table is a crowning scientific achievement, but it’s also a treasure trove of adventure, greed, betrayal, and obsession. The fascinating tales in The Disappearing Spoon follow elements on the table as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, conflict, the arts, medicine, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.
Adapted for a middle grade audience, the young readers edition of THE DISAPPEARING SPOON offers the material in a simple, easy-to-follow format, with approximately 20 line drawings and sidebars throughout. Students, teachers, and burgeoning science buffs will love learning about the history behind the chemistry.
See Inside Atoms and Molecules: An Usborne Flap Book by Rosie Dickens and Shaw Nielsen (2020)
Marvel at the mind-boggling world of atoms and molecules – the building blocks of EVERYTHING everywhere (including you).
Lift over 90 flaps to learn about atoms, molecules, compounds and electrons, and chemical reactions and explore the Periodic Table.
With links to specially selected websites for activities and videos.
Eyewitness Periodic Table (2018)
This fact-filled book is the perfect guide to all 118 elements in the periodic table, the ingredients that make up our world.
Includes stunning new photography, Eyewitness Periodic Table begins with a concise history of chemistry, scientific pioneers, and the creation of the first periodic table, then launches into a visual tour of each individual element. Along the way, you’ll find out where each element comes from and what it is used for, explained clearly and simply for young readers.
Explore elements such as carbon and oxygen and learn why they are essential to our survival. See how precious gold protects astronauts in space, and why the metal mercury can be both a solid and a liquid. Find out about man-made elements, which the smartest chemists are still busy figuring out how to use.
This detailed, accessible book will inspire young, inquisitive minds – the scientists of tomorrow who will shape our future.
Scholastic’s The Periodic Table by Sean Callery and Miranda Smith (2017)
Looking at the periodic table can be a bit daunting… how can you possibly remember what 118 different elements do?
The Periodic Table takes a new approach to this important science topic by offering a fully visual guide to the elements.
Featuring eye-popping photography and an enormous wealth of cool facts, this is the only book you’ll need to help you learn about the basic building blocks that make up everything in our world.
HOW DID I GET HERE BY PHILIP BUNTING (PICTURE BOOK)
From the Big Bang to your birthday, and (almost) everything in between, this funny and informative book tells your story.
You are one of the newest members of a family tree that goes way, way, way back to the very first life on Earth. A lot of incredible things had to happen between the beginning of the universe and today in order to make you. The fact that you (and everyone you know) are here is nothing short of mind-boggling! Read this book to discover how it happened, and prepare to be amazed by the awesomeness of you.
HOW THE BORKS BECAME BY JONATHAN EMMETT (PICTURE BOOK)
Borks live on a planet quite like our own Earth. They have shaggy yellow fur and long thin necks. But once they had short blue fur and almost no necks at all. How could this happen? Well, it didn’t come about all at once … Jonathan Emmett tells a delightful story in verse about the Borks and all the things that happened to make them gradually look quite different, while still remaining Borks. And by the end of the story, the reader will have a very good notion of how Evolution by natural selection works.
GRANDMOTHER FISH A CHILD’S FIRST BOOK OF EVOLUTION BY JONATHAN TWEET AND KAREN LEWIS (PICTURE BOOK)
Where did we come from?
It’s a simple question, but not so simple an answer to explain—especially to young children. Charles Darwin’s theory of common descent no longer needs to be a scientific mystery to inquisitive young readers. Meet Grandmother Fish.
Told in an engaging call and response text where a child can wiggle like a fish or hoot like an ape and brought to life by vibrant artwork, Grandmother Fish takes children and adults through the history of life on our planet and explains how we are all connected.
The book also includes comprehensive backmatter, including:
– An elaborate illustration of the evolutionary tree of life
– Helpful science notes for parents
– How to explain natural selection to a child
WHEN THE WHALES WALKED BY DOUGAL DIXON AND HANNAH BAILEY (PICTURE BOOK)
A 2019 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students: K–12 (National Science Teachers Association and the Children’s Book Council).
From the moment life crawled out of the oceans and onto land, to when our primate ancestors climbed down from the trees, the history of Planet Earth is filled with incredible stories. This beautifully illustrated guide explores some of the most exciting and incredible events in evolution, through 13 case studies.
Step back in time and discover a world where whales once walked, crocodiles were warm-blooded, and snakes had legs! Meet terrifying giant birds, and tiny elephants living on islands in this fascinating creature guide like no other. Learn how whales once walked on four legs before taking to the oceans; how dinosaurs evolved into birds; and how the first cats were small and lived in trees.
Featuring a stunning mix of annotated illustrations, illustrated scenes, and family trees, evolution is explained here in a captivating and novel style that will make children look at animals in a whole new way.
ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES BY SABINA RADEVA AND CHARLES DARWIN (PICTURE BOOK)
The revolutionary scientific book that explained evolution to millions of people for the first time, retold in stylish and accessible picture-book form.
The first ever picture-book retelling of Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species; this accessible work brings evolution to the younger generation through stylish illustrations and a simple, easy-to-understand text.
On The Origin of Species has been the definitive explanation of the theory of evolution since it was first published in 1859. Now molecular biologist and illustrator Sabina Radeva unites her two passions to create a 48-page retelling of this seminal text.
Pulling together Darwin’s observations from his travels around the world and his groundbreaking – and controversial – explanation of how species form, develop and change over hundreds of thousands of years, On The Origin of Species is as relevant and important now as it ever was.
An activity book inspired by Darwin’s revolutionary theory of evolution, by the creator of the bestselling picture-book retelling of On The Origin of Species
Learn about variation, competition and the struggle for existence with the help of this beautifully illustrated and accessible activity book for children.
Packed full with detailed colouring pages and mind-grabbing activities, this is a book to inspire creativity as well as an understanding of one of the most fundamental scientific theories of all time.
THE BORN WITH A BANG THEORY SERIES (PICTURE BOOKS)
Learning Magazine Teacher’s Choice Award National Gold Ink Awards Silver Award Children’s Books Endorsed by astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Nobel prize winner Leon Lederman, cosmologist Brian Swimme, and others.
“Once upon a time” meets science in a children’s picture book that tells the thrilling story of how life began on Earth.
The second in a trilogy of Universe stories — the first being “Born with a Bang: The Universe Tells Our Cosmic Story”– this book picks up the story with the first appearance of life on Earth. It’s a thrilling story about how Earth triumphs over crisis to become bacteria, jellyfish, flowers…even dinosaurs! The author, Jennifer Morgan, studied evolutionary science and saw its storytelling possibilities when she explained it to her elementary-age son. Coupled with brilliant artwork by Dana Anderson, who also studied Cosmology, these books will intrigue children and adults alike with their storytelling style and colorful pages.
The third book of the series is a scientifically accurate telling of the story of mammals and humans. Gorgeous and ethereal illustrations and a story that brings children into a state of connectedness with the universe makes this an amazing book for parents and teachers who want to instill in kids a deep appreciation for themselves, their community, and the need to protect this planet that we all reside.
This book picks up after From Lava to Life: The Universe Tells Our Earth Story with the extinction of dinosaurs, and tells how tiny mammals survived and morphed into lots of new Earthlings–horses, whales and a kind of mammal with a powerful imagination–you! It’s a story of chaos, creativity and heroes? the greatest adventure on Earth! And it’s a personal story . . . about our bodies, our minds, our spirits. It’s our story. As the president of the American Montessori Society said, “These books are alive with wonder, radiance, and deep relevance.”
Why Do Tigers Have Whiskers? from the creators of Curious Kids at The Conversation (Australia)
In this book on animals venture into the jungle to discover why tigers need whiskers dig deep with echidnas to find out how they breathe underground and shimmy up a tree with your pet cat to learn how it uses its claws. Aimed at kids aged 4-7 the series asks the big questions about the world as only a child could with factual explanations that break down the fundamentals and check our assumptions. A glossary helps young readers learn more complex terms and immersive collages illustrate each answer with layers of stuff to marvel at and identify. Learn thewhy thehowand thewow!as you explore your world through the eyes of a curious kid.
The book was written to address questions asked by kids.
WHAT MR DARWIN SAW BY MICK MANNING AND BRITA GRANSTROM
In 1831, at only 22 years old, Darwin was offered the position of Naturalist on HMS Beagle‘s world voyage. He was set to become a clergyman but returns after five years at sea an inspired genius. This book follows the journey of HMS Beagle, showing life on-board the ship for Darwin, the captain, crew and the expedition’s artist. The reader sees Darwin discovering and observing insect life in Brazil, fossils in Argentina, earthquakes in Chile and turtles in the Galapagos Islands. The reader is therefore able to follow the steps which led to Darwin’s inspired theory of evolution, while also showing the adventures and escapades he had during the voyage. A fascinating and colourful story of Darwin’s life, this book also introduces young readers to one of the world’s most important scientists and his discoveries. It concludes with a simple explanation of the theory of evolution. Written by an outstanding team in the field of children’s non-fiction, this is a book to enlighten and inspire young readers.
WHO WAS THE FIRST PERSON? (PODCAST)
Who was the first person? Paleoanthropologist Adam Van Arsdale answers one of the most frequent questions we get here at But Why. Also: how does evolution work? Was there a first of every living thing? How did the first animal come alive? How did monkeys turn into people? And what did cavemen eat that we still eat today?VPR, BBC
THE COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY (TV SERIES)
When it comes to storytelling, certain themes are easy to get wrong. Attempts at subversion can end up reinforcing a culturally dominant message. Specifically, attempts to show the sexual vulnerability of teenage girls can tip into objectification in the wrong hands, or sometimes mostly by the people in charge of the marketing materials.
When Netflix advertised the film Cuties, they were widely panned for using the image on the left, below. Notice how the French theatrical poster emphasises girlhood and friendship while the Netflix poster sexually objectifies pubescent girls.
Director Maïmouna Doucouré received death threats over the Netflix Cuties poster. Unfortunately for the director, the marketing team messed up. The film is actually a “nuanced, sensitive tale of a pre-teen girl who gets caught between two cultures – her conservative, religious upbringing and the pull of her liberal French school friends who are influenced by the internet and social media.”
The thing is, marketing materials (a story’s epitext) are a work of art in their own right, and still images pulled in isolation from of a subversive story require the rest of the text to make sense, and are therefore misleading.
Marketing materials aside, others argue that the story of Cuties itself is exploitative:
To avoid abusing children in the production of the story, Doucouré could have chosen to tell the story without creating such sexually explicit material as was shown on screen, or she could have hired actors over the age of 18, but that’s not what happened.
“The audience does not need to see the very long scenes with close-up shots of the girls’ bodies; this does nothing to educate the audience on the harms of sexualization,” Lina Nealon, director of corporate and strategic initiatives at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said in an NCOSE statement. “Netflix could and should insist that the particularly sexually-exploitative scenes are cut from the film, or stop hosting this film at all.”Netflix’s ‘Cuties’ Didn’t Have to Participate in Exploitation to Expose It:
That the film made it this far shows our culture is already desensitized to the hypersexualization of minors. MARY ROSE SOMARRIBA
Stories about adults can come under the same criticism. Mad Men was also criticised for seeming on the one hand to critique the misogyny of the 1950s and 60s advertising world while at the same time objectifying women.
Now to Fish Tank. This is one film which does an excellent job of depicting the vulnerability of teenage girls is Fish Tank (2009) written and directed by Andrea Arnold.Continue reading “Fish Tank Film Study”
A Serigraph is a rendition of an original artwork created by the silk-screen printing process.The Archer Art Gallery
“Serigraph” refers to a type of screen printing, which in turn influences the sort of art that can be produced. This particular form of screen printing is labour intensive and involves a colour professional who separates every colour. Basically, ink is forced through a series of fine meshed silk-screens, which are probably not silk these days, but a synthetic material. Some of this polyester mesh is coarse, other mesh is fine, depending on the level of detail required. Serigraphs allow artists fine control over colour in a way other forms of printing does not.
What does an serigraphic illustration tend to look like?
It took off as a printing form in the 1960s. Thank Andy Warhol. During the 60s, some big name artists such as Warhol realised serigraph printing could achieve textures that other printing processes did not allow.
What are the common features of popular works commonly described as ‘whimsical’? A long while ago I swapped a middle grade critique with someone who had used ‘whimsical’ in the title of their work, yet the story itself did not feel whimsical. I started to wonder about the unspoken rules of ‘whimsical’. But could I be wrong about ‘whimsical’? What what does whimsy mean? Is it possible to list the attributes of this aesthetic?
Here are some examples of how ‘whimsical’ is often used in the marketing copy of books:
Suki’s favorite possession is her blue cotton kimono. A gift from her obachan, it holds special memories of her grandmother’s visit last summer. And Suki is going to wear it on her first day back to school — no matter what anyone says.
When it’s Suki’s turn to share with her classmates what she did during the summer, she tells them about the street festival she attended with her obachan and the circle dance that they took part in. In fact, she gets so carried away reminiscing that she’s soon humming the music and dancing away, much to the delight of her entire class!
Filled with gentle enthusiasm and a touch of whimsy, Suki’s Kimono is the joyful story of a little girl whose spirit leads her to march — and dance — to her own drumbeat.
Magic and whimsy meet in this Howl’s Moving Castle for a new generation from the critically adored Sophie Anderson, author of The House with Chicken Legs.
Twelve-year-old Olia knows a thing or two about secrets. Her parents are the caretakers of Castle Mila, a soaring palace with golden domes, lush gardens, and countless room. Literally countless rooms. There are rooms that appear and disappear, and rooms that have been hiding themselves for centuries. The only person who can access them is Olia. She has a special bond with the castle, and it seems to trust her with its secrets.
But then a violent storm rolls in . . . a storm that skips over the village and surrounds the castle, threatening to tear it apart. While taking cover in a rarely-used room, Olia stumbles down a secret passage that leads to a part of Castle Mila she’s never seen before. A strange network of rooms that hide the secret to the castle’s past . . . and the truth about who’s trying to destroy it.
A heartfelt middle-grade novel from New York Times bestselling author Barbara O’Connor about a boy whose life is upended after the loss of his older brother–timeless, classic, and whimsical.
Walter Tipple is looking for adventure. He keeps having a dream that his big brother, Tank, appears before him and says, “Let’s you and me go see my world, little man.” But Tank went to the army and never came home, and Walter doesn’t know how to see the world without him.
Then he meets Posey, the brash new girl from next door, and an eccentric man named Banjo, who’s off on a bodacious adventure of his own. What follows is a summer of taking chances, becoming braver, and making friends–and maybe Walter can learn who he wants to be without the brother he always wanted to be like.
Halfway to Harmony is an utterly charming story about change and growing up.
This French book by Camille Jourdy is part of a series described as ‘whimsical’ in French about a girl who goes into the forest and encounters fantastic creatures called Les Vermeilles.
ABOVE AND UNDER WATER
The Hollow Earth is a concept proposing that the planet Earth is entirely hollow or contains a substantial interior space. Notably suggested by Edmond Halley in the late 17th century, the notion was disproved, first tentatively by Pierre Bouguer in 1740, then definitively by Charles Hutton in his Schiehallion experiment around 1774.Wikipedia, about Hollow Earth fantasies
INSIDE AND OUTSIDE
A view through a window is a great way of showing two different environments, of course. But where to position the camera to allow the viewer both views? Below are various examples.
In Angela Barrett’s fairytale illustration below, the crosscut of the wall allows for the Easter Egg detail of a shoe hidden in the wall. This is an old custom. People used to hide shoes in the house for apotropaic purposes:
Concealed shoes hidden in the fabric of a building have been discovered in many European countries, as well as in other parts of the world, since at least the early modern period. Independent researcher Brian Hoggard has observed that the locations in which these shoes are typically found – in chimneys, under floors, above ceilings, around doors and windows, in the roof – suggest that some may have been concealed as magical charms to protect the occupants of the building against evil influences such as demons, ghosts and witches. Others may have been intended to bestow fertility on a female member of the household, or been an offering to a household deity.Wikipedia
In the illustration below, Thornton Utz makes use of a warm palette for the interior and a cool palette for the snowy scene right outside. It looks like this couple has prepared for a magnificent dinner party but their guests have been foiled by the weather.
The illustration below, by Japanese illustrator Tadahiro Uesugi, offers another excellent perspective for showing both inside and outside view through a window. Uesugi is known for playing with unusual angles and perspectives.
OVER AND ABOVE THE BRIDGE
Here is another Tadahiro Uesugi illustration. Bridges, overpasses and raised railway tracks are another way of showing the viewer two different ‘worlds’.
Panoptic narrative art depicts multiple scenes and actions without the repetition of characters. Think of the word ‘panorama’. ‘All-seeing’ (pan + optic).
Kitty’s mother died on an inappropriately sunny Tuesday. So much has changed in Kitty’s life over the last few months, and she needs the world to stop spinning around her. She needs things to return to normal — or as normal as they’ll ever be.
Normal definitely does not include her family moving from their home in a cozy corner of London all the way to New York City. Moving means leaving behind her friends and neighbors, her grandmother, and all the places and people that help Kitty keep her mother’s memory alive.
New York City is bright and bustling and completely different from everything Kitty has known. As she adjusts to her new school, explores her new city, and befriends a blue-haired boy, Kitty wonders if her memories of her mother don’t need to stay in one place — if there’s a way for them to be with Kitty every day, everywhere.
With her wry, poignant wit, Kitty tells a universal story about the grief of losing a beloved family member, the fears of starting over, and the challenges of how to remake a family in this powerful, heartfelt debut novel.
Peephole: a small hole that may be looked through, especially one in a door through which callers may be identified before the door is opened.
Though the graphic art below focuses on peepholes — from literal holes in walls to views through trees in a forest — in literature there are established terms for describing the unsettled feeling you get when you look through something to something else.
It goes back to Freud, of course. Freud and the uncanny, or unheimlich.
Freud described the uncanny as “that class of the terrifying which leads back to something long known to us, once very familiar”. The uncanny represents the liminal space between what is capable of being understood as outward in the world and what is hidden. Though we may get a sense of the familiarity, its true connection to the past is never quite in our reach. Through repression or burying, the uncanny is never able to be fully comprehended — it can, however, be sensed or felt.
The word ‘unheimlich’ is the opposite of ‘heimlich’, which has various definitions, all related to ‘the home’ e.g. ‘belonging to the home’. The home is (hopefully) where we experience peaceful pleasure and security.
Some writers are well-known for their ability to evoke a sense of the uncanny in readers. One standout example: Shirley Jackson.
In her novel Hangsaman, Jackson repeats door scenes to evoke in readers a sense of the inbetween. (Liminal space.) These doors runction as a gateway to “the shadowy part of self reserved for the double“:
A knock on her door was a strange thing to her as the fact of the door itself… as she looked at the inside, and meant to mark the next day whether the panels outside were the same as those inside; off, she thought, that someone standing outside could look at the door, straight ahead, seeing the white paint and the wood, and I inside looking at the door and the white paint and the wood should look straight also, and we two looking should not see each other because there is something in the way…Hangsaman, Shirley Jackson
Below is an analysis of this passage. Before reading, know that lonely college freshman Natalie Waite is the main character and she has created this imaginary friend she calls Tony. (Many readers don’t pick up that Tony is imaginary, instead coding Tony as a same-sex romantic object.)
The knocking figure lurking behind the door, somatically signaling its presence but unknowable until the door is opened, is exactly the fear Freud describes in the uncanny. Natalie’s attempts to understand the odd situation relies her ability to “look” at the inside, to “mark” the day, to observe panels from various angles, to “see” the paint, wood, and otherwise normal harbingers of reality.
To decipher what is happening, Natalie attempts to reassert the concreteness of her room and the door. Jackson’s paragraph instills the fear in not knowing where the boundary between the real and the unreal lays, and leaving the uncertainty open after establishing the obvious.
The “we two looking” are Natalie and Tony, not yet able to meet due to that “something in the way,” whether it be logic, reasoning, perception, or simply, a locked door.
Beyond the locked door is the distance between two selves and mental activities. To look at each other would be to finally confront the shadowy other, an act that Natalie cannot fully confront.
What is beginning to emerge in this passage, though, is an inability to separate the real world self from the non reality. It is unclear who the “I” in the passage is, whether Natalie or Tony, real self or shadowed visage.“Homespun” Horror: Shirley Jackson’s Domestic Doubling by Hannah Phillips
Useful words from that analysis:
Somatic psychology: The study of the mind/body interface, the relationship between our physical matter and our energy; the interaction of our body structures with our thoughts and actions.
Non reality: A place, situation, etc. that is not reality.
Visage: A person’s face or facial expression, with reference to the form or proportions of the features. And here it means the manifestation, image, or aspect of something. (A metaphorical face, for things which don’t normally have faces e.g. buildings or parts of architecture.)