Reference Titles on Death, Genealogy, & More

This month's reference print titles run the gamut, from an encyclopedia on just about everything to a guide to genealogy.

Gay, Kathlyn. Dealing with Death: The Ultimate Teen Guide. 240p. glossary. index. notes. photos. Rowman & Littlefield. Nov. 2017. Tr $45. ISBN 9781538102749.

Gr 7 Up –Veteran teen nonfiction author Gay presents a compendium of information related to death or dying, from customs (vigils, funerals) to terminal illness to euthanasia. The material is wide-ranging but fairly superficial. Gay offers in-depth examinations of some subjects, such as how military families cope with death or how individuals deal with the loss of a service animal. Other topics, however, seem tangential, including the discussion of protest-style peace vigils as political statements. Sidebars and quotes are generous, focusing on, for instance, teens who have experienced parental death, suicidal thoughts, and fatal illness; legal cases involving patients in a persistent vegetative state; and depictions of death in the arts. Stock photos overwhelmingly depict white subjects and occasionally look staged. A final section reprints the advance care directive specific to Florida. ­VERDICT Best suited to homework assignment research or as a starting point for teens facing issues such as a friend diagnosed with terminal illness, this resource offers solid grounding that will enhance more thorough investigations elsewhere.–Francisca Goldsmith, ­Library Ronin, Worcester, MA

Grée, Alain. My Illustrated Encyclopedia. illus. by Alain Grée. 800p. index. GMC. Apr. 2018. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781908985972.

K-Gr 2 –While the cartoonish illustrations in this British import are at times charming, this book misses the mark. Obviously intended for younger elementary school students, it relies mainly on visuals, not text. There are some cultural missteps—in the pages on boats and ships, a Native American wearing a feathered headband rows a canoe, and depictions of Asians and Inuits are also stereotypical. The retro 1950s look may be right for the intended age, but the information isn’t, and there is little cohesion among the chapters. They are more or less a compilation of “stuff to know” (“Flowers,” “Rivers,” “Freshwater Fish,” “Vehicles”), but there are far better beginning materials on this topic, such as DK’s Picturepedia or Children’s Illustrated 2018Encyclopedia. ­VERDICT Not recommended.–Sharon Verbeten, Brown County Library, Green Bay, WI

Mattern, Joanne. The Cat Encyclopedia for Kids. 208p. glossary. index. photos. Capstone. Mar. 2018. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781623709372.

Gr 4-7 –Several years ago, the “All About Cats” series came out with individual titles on various feline breeds, such as Maine Coon Cats. All 12 volumes are presented here, with some of the same photographs and content. Updates include the breeds’ popularity, according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association. The compilation is somewhat useful. For example, a back section briefly covers 30 additional breeds (with images). However, other aspects don’t translate well. To make everything fit, the text is confined to one margin, with white space on the bottom and the side. Readers might be discouraged by the text’s dense appearance. The bold font, to indicate words defined in the glossary, is used inconsistently. Sometimes potentially unfamiliar words are in bold; other times, they are explained within the text. VERDICT Not a major upgrade from the “All About Cats” series but helpful for those looking to save shelf space and where readers want more current numbers on breed standings.–Elissa Cooper, Helen Plum Memorial Library, Lombard, IL

Platt, Richard. A World of Information. illus. by James Brown. 64p. Candlewick Studio. Oct. 2017. Tr $25. ISBN 9780763693480.

Gr 4-8 –True to its title, this oversize volume briefly covers everything from knot types, atomic structure, and music notation to rivers, Roman numerals, and standardized paper sizing. Text is offered on the verso, with an image on the facing page. Screen-printed illustrations rely on single colors and greatly enhance the superb material. Unfortunately, the work lacks an index and is haphazardly organized. Information on the human skeleton, for instance,  is nowhere near sections on organs. VERDICT An attractive, browsable collection of interesting facts. Of limited use as ready reference or for school reports, but a fine gift book, suitable for display on coffee tables and in waiting rooms.–Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI

redstarResler, T.J. National Geographic Kids Guide to Genealogy. 160p. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. National Geographic. Apr. 2018. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781426329838.

Gr 5 Up –This comprehensive guide recognizes that there is no “typical” family structure and emphasizes that family is not just about bloodlines. With a theme of the United States as an immigrant nation, this title suggests genealogists are detectives, gathering, evaluating, and documenting evidence. It offers many useful examples, including how to cite evidence, and points out the tools needed. Resler offers suggestions on how to tackle research difficulties, such as geographical boundary changes. Readers will also learn the value of original and derivative sources. There is even a section on deep ancestry. The colorful layout includes plenty of fun facts, bulleted clues, and examples of research roadblocks, with solutions, case files, and activities. This volume expertly identifies libraries, historical societies, and other organizations of value to genealogists. It also establishes the crucial role of librarians and archivists and stresses the importance of how one’s own life shapes history. VERDICT Highly recommended for young people interested in genealogy.–Lisa Gieskes, Richland County Public Library, Columbia, SC

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