By Jean-Henri Fabre. Translated from the French by Florence Constable Bicknell. A wondrous introduction to the world of chemistry, designed specifically for younger readers with the intention of arousing their interest in science.
Using everyday objects found around the house or in the local store, this book is set as a storyline in which an “Uncle Paul” teaches his two nephews the secrets behind building an artificial volcano; how to set metals on fire; the flammable properties of water; how to make a fire hotter; how to make soap bubbles rise; how to make invisible ink; the science behind effervescent wines, ciders, and beer; how plants feed on carbon, water, and air—and much, much more.
From the translator’s preface:
“The personal, biographical interest of the book is not to be overlooked. The boys Jules and Emile are the author’s own children; faithfully portrayed even to the names they bear. In his captivating fashion the man of vast learning makes himself at once teacher and comrade to his young hearers, and we learn that ‘his chemistry lessons especially had a great success.’
“With apparatus of his own devising and of the simplest kind he could perform a host of elementary experiments, the apparatus as a rule consisting of the most ordinary materials, such as a common flask or bottle, an old mustard-pot, a tumbler, a goose-quill or a pipe-stem.
“A series of astonishing phenomena amazed their wondering eyes. He made them see, touch, taste, handle, and smell, and always ‘the hand assisted the word,’ always ‘the example accompanied the precept,’ for no one more fully valued the profound maxim, so neglected and misunderstood, that ‘to see is to know.’
“Though living creatures necessarily claimed the naturalist’s first affections, he nonetheless ‘animates even the simple elementary bodies, celebrating the marvelous activities of the air, the violence of chlorin, the metamorphoses of carbon, the miraculous bridals of phosphorus,’ and the ‘splendors which accompany the birth of a drop of water.’”
Chapter I: Introduction
Chapter II: Mixing and Combining
Chapter III: The Slice of Toast
Chapter IV: Simple Substances
Chapter V: Compound Substances
Chapter VI: Experiments with the Breath
Chapter VII: Experiments with Air
Chapter VIII: Further Experiments with Air
Chapter IX: The Two Sparrows
Chapter X: Burning Phosphorus
Chapter XI: Burning Metals
Chapter XII: Salts
Chapter XIII: A Talk on Tools
Chapter XIV: Oxygen
Chapter XV: Air and Combustion
Chapter XVI: Rust
Chapter XVII: At the Blacksmith’s
Chapter XVIII: Hydrogen
Chapter XIX: A Drop of Water
Chapter XX: A Piece of Chalk
Chapter XXI: Carbonic-Acid Gas
Chapter XXII: Different Kinds of Water
Chapter XXIII: Plants at Work
Chapter XXIV: Sulphur
Chapter XXV: Chlorin
Chapter XXVI: Nitrogen Compounds
Note: This is not a “scan” copy but has been completely reset.
About the author: Jean-Henri Casimir Fabre (1823–1915) was a French entomologist and author. An autodidact trained as a teacher, physicist, chemist and botanist, he is best known for his ground-breaking studies of insects. His works represent fifty years of observation, study and experiment. A national hero in his native land, both his birthplace and his last home and office are present-day museums devoted to his life and works.
Paperback, 260 pages, 6″ x 9″, $11.95