Friday, 21 March 2014
London, Corgi, 2012, 407p
Over the years, my knowledge of the period table of elements has deteriorated somewhat due to lack of revision. But in Itch, the elements come to life, being grounded in everyday objects like toothpaste and earings, and demonstrating unimaginably cool uses.
Itchingham Lofte is not an academic genius or hipster-esque geek. He is not popular or the teacher's pet. He is normal. He gets bored at school and gets into trouble at home. But he is an element collector - gathering materials that contain each of the elements in the periodic table. And sometimes, his experimentations end up causing quite a lot of mess, and sometimes minor fires.
Then, his dealer, Cake, has something new for him - a material that doesn't match the atomic make up of anything Itch has seen before. He's curious, and takes the rock into school to show his teacher in the hope they might shed some light on this strange object. But the rock soon makes it's way into the wrong hands and attracts the attention of some shifty businesses, convinced that this rock is a new element - and a highly radioactive one, at that! Along with his cousin Jack and his sister, Itch has to end what he started, and embarks on an adventure to keep this dangerous material away from anyone who might use it for evil.
Simon Mayo (yes, that Simon Mayo) is an incredible writing talent. He has made science accessible and exciting for someone who had no more than a GCSE-level interest in the subject. I really cannot recommend this enough, and will be forcing it upon my science department as soon as possible!
And in addition to the book itself (which, it is worth noting, is part of a new series), Mayo has made great use of social media and has gone online to link Itch up to the modern world of readers.