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Children's LiteratureAn entry in "The Unexplained" series, this high-interest book takes a logical look at paranormal body experiences: supposed spontaneous human combustion; reincarnation (disproved in the case of Bridey Murphy, and open to question in the case of a boy in Lebanon); ghosts as "proven" by photographs and eyewitness accounts; and near-death experiences. Unlike other books in the series in which the device of a skeptic or "eyewitness" provides questioning, this examination is straightforwardly narrated by the author. Her skeptical tone is echoed by other debunkers mentioned in each segment and the scientific explanation, often centering on brain research, is backed up by a little historical sleuthing. However, some phenomena are seemingly open to different interpretations, such as children being extrasensory perceptive until about eight or nine. With a humorous, colloquial, and easy style, the book also features short punchy prose—a further attraction for reluctant readers. Full-color photos (some quite graphic) with eerie scratched frames, diagrams, archival material, and the use of a unifying apple green and black give this series a pleasing appearance. By itself, the book will not satisfy report writers but the endmatter supplies ways to find out more and an index is provided 2004, Lerner, Ages 10 to 16.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.