Birthdays: Beyond Cake and Ice Cream

TATE, Nikki & . 80p. (Orca Origins). bibliog. ebook available. glossary. index. photos. websites. Orca. Mar. 2017. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781459812970.
Gr 4–7—Offering an overview of the history behind birthdays, the authors use family anecdotes as a touchstone to consider traditions around the world. Personal narratives and photos from a variety of international contributors appear throughout and add insight into cultural differences. The first chapter ("The Birth of Birthdays") delves into the origins of birthdays. It relates accounts of the celebrations of pharaohs, the Chinese zodiac animals, and ancient Greek and Roman festivals. A section on the Industrial Revolution looks at how mass production led to contemporary customs. The second chapter ("Celebrating Birthdays Around the World") highlights how different traditions have formed around party invitations, food, gifts, and games. Important age milestones and cultural traditions are featured in the last chapter ("Milestone Birthdays"). Explorations of childhood rites, such as quinceañeras, bar and bat mitzvahs, and the 100th day celebration customary in Korean culture, are counterbalanced with traditions honoring elders. Included are international recipes and do-it-yourself activities. While the book is engaging, with lively stories, colorful photographs, and fun sidebars, the bibliography is insubstantial and won't be of much value to report writers.
VERDICT The lack of quality references limits the usefulness of this title beyond an introductory work.

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