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From the Orca Origins series

The intended audience may find this less interesting than educators and librarians looking for program ideas; nevertheless,...

A survey of birthday customs from ancient times to today’s birthday wishes on social media.

The special feature of this recently launched series is the inclusion of personal reminiscences, some of which are more unusual than others. Here, the mother-and-daughter co-authors have used some of their own, with the most compelling being Tate-Stratton’s memory of spending her 20th birthday in Japan, where she joined in Adult’s Day, Seijin no Hi, wearing an opulent kimono and participating in ceremonies at the local city hall and religious shrine. The origins of birthday customs in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome are described, as are celebrations in many contemporary countries. Special ceremonies and parties for specific ages, such as the Latin American quinceañera for 15-year-old girls, Jewish bar and bat mitzvahs (religious coming-of-age ceremonies for 13-year-old boys and 12-year-old girls), and parties for Korean 1-year-olds, are explained. The authors also call attention to birthdays for senior adults, especially in Asian countries. The color photos are excellent, and the text is well-researched (although not much is included on African countries), but the activities scattered throughout the book are less than exciting: a recipe or two (some measurements are only in metric units), a birthday calendar project, a simple game for kids younger than the target audience, and suggestions for thinking about and reflecting on the past year and goals for the next.

The intended audience may find this less interesting than educators and librarians looking for program ideas; nevertheless, a useful book. (glossary, references and resources, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1297-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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After surveying “competing claims” for the first Thanksgiving from 1541 on, in Texas, Florida, Maine, Virginia and Massachusetts, Colman decides in favor of the 1621 event with the English colonists and Wampanoag as the first “because the 1621 event was more like the Thanksgiving that we celebrate today.” She demonstrates, however, that the “Pilgrim and Indian” story is really not the antecedent of Thanksgiving as we celebrate it today. Rather, two very old traditions—harvest festivals and days of thanksgiving for special events—were the origin, and this interesting volume traces how the custom of proclaiming a general day of thanksgiving took hold. Yet, since many Thanksgiving celebrations in towns and schools are still rooted in the “Pilgrim and Indian” story, which the author calls “true and important,” but which many Native Americans find objectionable, a more in-depth discussion of it is warranted here. The solid bibliography does include some fine resources, such as 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving (2001) by Catherine O’Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac. (author’s note, chronology, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8229-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2008

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How and when the Western Hemisphere, particularly North and South America, came to be populated continues to be both mysterious and controversial for scientists. Archaeologists plug away with the tools at their disposal but have “more questions than answers.” Harrison does a good job setting the issue in context. He describes the earliest efforts to identify the original inhabitants of the continents, exploring the Clovis culture, believed by many to be the first humans to reach North America. After clearly explaining how scholars decided that they were first, he then lists the arguments against this hypothesis. In the course of looking at both sides, he introduces young readers to “the strict rules of archaeology.” The author demonstrates the precise work of those attempting to understand the hidden aspects of human history and how many of these old questions are seen in the light of new technologies and discoveries. The narrative is aided by both photographs and original illustrations that imagine scenes from both the distant past and the field experiences. (glossary, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59078-561-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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