Dying to Know: About Death, Funeral Customs, and Final Resting Places

Dying to Know: About Death, Funeral Customs, and Final Resting Places

by Lila Perl, Nicholas Heweston

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Various beliefs, rituals and customs related to death are presented in a factual, dispassionate way. A discussion of the inevitability of death serves as an introduction. This is followed with descriptions of funeral customs among prehistoric and ancient peoples, including the specific steps for mummification in Egypt. The section about world religions includes beliefs and practices of Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Shinto communities. A brief history of death rituals in the United States is followed by a discussion of current day practices. Young people may have the greatest interest in the last two chapters, which present information about graveyards and unusual sayings on tombstones, some surprisingly humorous. Archival black-and-white photographs illustrate the book. Many of these are quite gruesome, but all are appropriate for the subject. Source notes, a bibliography and an index are included. 2001, Twenty-First Century Books/Millbrook Press, $25.90. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer:Phyllis Kennemer
The possibility of an ethereal afterlife is perhaps the most popular topic when considering the subject of death. Although that topic is touched upon lightly throughout this book, Perl is concerned more with the immediate ramification of death: burial. Perl examines the funeral customs of ancient traditions, world religions, and America, both historical and present. She discusses the development and significance of graveyards and grave markers. Throughout the discussion, Perl examines the effect of medical science and socioeconomics on the various burial customs. There also is some discussion of the impact that various customs have on the environment. The text is at its best when the author captures the reader's unease about the subject. At one point, the author eerily describes the fear of being buried alive that permeated early cultures, citing the example of George Washington wanting his family to wait two days before they buried his body. Each chapter begins with a page of text appearing on the outline of a tombstone, and numerous black-and-white pictures, including one of the Inca mummy Juanita, illustrate the text. Although the work is by no means comprehensive and only briefly covers the various cultural and religious traditions, it ishighly readable nonfiction that will appeal to the most reluctant of readers. School and public libraries looking for a good, basic introduction to the topic will want this book and might pair it with Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts: A History of Burial by Penny Coleman (Henry Holt, 1997), a VOYA Nonfiction Honor List title for 1998. Index. Photos. Biblio. Source Notes. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J S (Readable without serious defects; Broad generalYA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Twenty-First Century, 96p, $25.90. Ages 11 to 18. Reviewer: Karen Jensen SOURCE: VOYA, February 2002 (Vol. 24, No.6)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Perl sets out to demystify "the mystery at the end of life." In six chapters, she discusses funeral and burial customs from prehistoric to modern times, including mummification, embalming, and the differences and similarities among major religions regarding death practices. Readers are also told what happens to a corpse after several months buried in a coffin, and how bodies are cremated. The book closes with examples of humorous epitaphs from gravestones of the past. The black-and-white photos expand the text and are appropriately placed. Although research and treatment are superior in Penny Colman's Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts (Holt, 1997), libraries looking for a brief overview may want to consider Perl's book.-Jennifer Ralston, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Read More

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 10.36(h) x 0.53(d)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >