Nano: The Spectacular Science of the Very (Very) Small
The tall and thin book, Nano: The Spectacular Science of the Very (Very) Small, draws us in with its warm cover of yellow, red, and teal. A small girl with a pointer and pigtails stands on a ball at the bottom. Turn the page and we see yellow endpapers made up of connecting geometric shapes with dots in the centers.
On the next page, the same girl from the cover sits on a red ball connected to five other balls in a pattern, but is it a ball or something else? Finally, on the title page, we see the girl holding a book open to a page with five balls connected together.
“Look around your home. Everything is made out of something.” The art shows the girl sitting in the top floor of a three-story house with the front cut away.
“Something light or something heavy, something strong or something flexible, something smooth or something rough . . .”
The author explains how these materials do different jobs. “A book is made from paper. Stone would be too heavy and glass would be too delicate. Imagine a book made of chocolate . . . It would melt.”
A microscope is pictured on the next page, with a scientist looking at the tiny girl standing under the lens.
The author describes atoms as tiny building blocks. “Stop: read that last sentence again. It’s a gigantic idea to get your head around, but it’s too important to skip over.”
The art shows molecules for sea salt, water, mountain rock, and cotton.
The next page discusses “over 100 kinds of atoms, and each kind is called an element.”
The opposite page shows the 11 most common elements in the human body, with carbon being a very important one. “There’s carbon all over the world, in every living thing—from daisies to oak trees, beetles to blue whales.”
Carbon makes graphite, and its molecular appearance is shown on the next page, above the girl using pencils to draw.
“Scientists discovered that they could take one layer away from graphite to create a brand-new material, which they called graphene.” The molecular diagram for graphene is shown on the page along with an elephant walking on a tightrope made of graphene. The girl sits in a tree.
“Graphene is a nanomaterial—and it’s just one atom thick.” The girl is sitting on the ball again, but now we realize it is an atom. Graphene is in cell phones!
“Scientists are working to make sieves with nanosize(d) holes, small enough to trap even the tiniest specks of salt and dirt.” Nano computer chips could help blind people see. “As you read this book, they (scientists) are conducting experiments, making some not-so-nano mistakes and discovering more about atoms.”
The last page is a shout-out to girls everywhere to become scientists.
Back matter includes info about chemists, physicists, engineers, microscopes, and spectroscopy. Finally, there is a short index.
From a design standpoint, the book is outstanding. Castrillón uses earthy designs with plants and water incorporated into the art. The girl shows up on nearly every page. All pages have a matte finish with a retro feel of primary colors on a cream background. The text stays black throughout.
The science is interesting, and the concept is understood after multiple readings. The punctuation is creative in places, but otherwise the book is a charmer. Some girls (and boys) might want to pursue such an abstract concept as nanoscience, simplified by a female scientist, author Dr. Jess Wade.