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Meet some of the elements of the Periodic Table

The Periodic Table provides information about all the elements in the universe, and it’s an essential tool for anyone studying chemistry. Author Alice James describes how she brought this slightly intimidating subject to life in Lift-the-flap Periodic Table, using characters to represent all the elements.

Lift-The-Flap Periodic Table

Lift-the-Flap Periodic Table is an introduction to all the elements in the Universe – shiny, radioactive, explosive, gaseous, and everything in between.

Writing this book was a really exciting process. I started off by researching every element in turn, getting to know what it’s like, what it’s used for, and where it’s found, making a mega-document of interesting information. Next was my favourite part of the whole thing – turning each element into a character. I sat down with our brilliant designer Emily to sketch out about 100 different characters, from goblins to fishermen, aliens to ravers.

Each character had to be carefully constructed to give a lot of information – each one is colour coded, so you know where to find it on the table, has a distinct bottom half, so you know whether it’s a solid, liquid or gas, and has a clear persona that tells you a bit about it.

The Periodic Table is split up into sections, with elements grouped according to their personalities. Each page in our book features one of those sections, colour-coded to make it clear and easy to remember. I chose a fact or two for each element on a page, particularly stuff that sounded amazing, like that indium screams when you bend it, or that barium rocks glow in the dark.

The elements

Here are some of the characters you’ll find in the book. Lots of the elements are useful, some of them are dangerous, and all 118 are completely unique.

Dmitri Mendeleev, founder of the Periodic Table

Dmitri Mendeleev – VIP (very important professor)

Mendeleev was a Russian chemist, and 150 years ago he was the first person to figure out how to put all the elements that had been discovered together into one sensible table. He pops up through the book to give you handy facts.

Dmitri Mendeleev, founder of the Periodic Table
Dmitri Mendeleev in the 1890s

Hydrogen, the first element of the Periodic Table


Element number one - the first element to ever exist after the Big Bang, and the first element in the table. She’s a floating gas, and found around us in everything from water to the inside of stars.



This guy’s got his armbands and snorkel on ready for a dip in the pool – he’s a gas, but usually found in swimming pools, cleaning the water and making it safe to swallow.



A grey metallic chap, his name comes from the German word for ‘goblin’, because early cobalt miners thought cobalt was cursed by goblins.



Here’s an element you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark street at night. The yellow glow means he’s seriously radioactive – he leaves a radioactive trail wherever he goes, and even a microscopic amount is fatal.

Lift-the-Flap Periodic Table is available now. 

Alice James

Tags: science back to school

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