Perfectly solid material

11th September 1998 at 01:00
CHEMISTRY. By Richard Harwood. Cambridge Pounds 14.95

COLLINS ADVANCED SCIENCE:CHEMISTRY. By Chris Conoley and Phil Hills. Collins Educational Pounds 24.99

DETECTION AND ANALYSIS. By E N Ramsden. Stanley Thornes Pounds 10.99

Richard Harwood opens the Cambridge Chemistry with the Big Bang and claims the universe as his laboratory. The publisher has opted for a large book and print size. Layout is imaginative, with a good mix of coloured pictures and diagrams. The result is an attractive, easy-to-follow GCSE textbook.

The first section, Planet Earth, contains a good coverage of Earth science. Each section gives summaries of the core and extension and is lavishly endowed with helpful questions. There is an excellent glossary of key words and the handy tips for dealing with examination questions are first-class. This book would be ideal for GCSE students who wish to take the subject further.

The Collins' Chemistry by Chris Conoley and Phil Hills is beautifully crafted, building on techniques developed over the years. The style is clear, lively and upbeat. The authors set out to make the work relevant, enjoyable, exciting and accessible, and they have succeeded.

The layout and referencing make it extremely easy to follow and the margin questions are superb. Detailed, current illustrations and applications from everyday life abound and it sits well with modern A-level courses. From rape methyl ester to dioxins, and from cave paintings to light sticks, it is full of fascinating facts. This book stands on a pinnacle - all schools where A-level chemistry is taught should have at least one copy.

E N Ramsden needs no introduction to chemistry teachers. Detection and Analysis is written as a companion to her A-Level Chemistry and has the same clear, authoritative style. In contrast to the earlier books, there is no attempt to woo the reader but if you need information on analytical techniques from chromatography, electro-phoresis and spectroscopy to the major types of spectrometry you have only to inquire within.

Texts of the quality of these three books will ensure that chemistry remains popular with pupils of all ages and abilities.

Hugh Rippin is former head of chemistry at Chenderit High School, Banbury,Oxfordshire

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