All in the Family

With over 700,000 subscribers, is a popular online community where families can make their own Web pages, with genealogy, news and more. The site's editors have crafted Celebrating the Family: The Guide to Understanding Your Family History. The oversized, highly illustrated book is an ideal tool to help families record traditions, archive photographs, seek out their history, understand genetics and keep in touch with each other. The authors explain how to construct a family tree, create a heritage scrapbook and even plan a budget-conscious family reunion. (Friedman/Fairfax [Sterling, dist.], $19.95 paper 256p ISBN 1-58663-592-1; Oct.)

For children, grandmothers can be comforting and loving mythic figures. For adults, grandmothers may take on a mentor-like quality. Celebrating grandmothers old and young is Janet Lanese's More Grandmothers Are Like Snowflakes... No Two Are Alike: A Treasury of Wit, Wisdom, and Heartwarming Observations. In this second grandmother-inspired compilation, the author intersperses quotes from Mother Teresa ("A good feeling inside is worth more than a great beautician") and Alice Walker ("Our mothers and grandmothers, some of them; moving to music not yet written") along with her own bits of advice, such as "tell the truth no matter what the consequences" and "laugh at yourself and with yourself." (Delacorte, $11.95 144p ISBN 0-440-33621-7; Oct. 8)

Adults who grew up with a disabled brother or sister may have been labeled the "normal" one. Psychotherapist Jeanne Safer addresses the premature maturity, emotional and intellectual perfectionism and deep guilt about their own health that she says many "normal" siblings experience in The Normal One: Life with a Difficult or Damaged Sibling. Using interviews with 60 subjects who have disabled siblings and her own experience with an emotionally ill brother, Safer sensitively documents the various challenges that siblings face and offers wise, gentle counsel for dealing with these challenges. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. (Free Press, $24 224p ISBN 0-7432-1196-0; Sept. 17)

Psychotherapist Ursula Falk and sociologist Gerhard Falk's Grandparents: A New Look at the Supporting Generation offers a refreshing take on grandparents. The authors contend that in the past century, grandparents' roles have changed dramatically, due to the rise of big government, the advent of the postindustrial age, increased longevity and a decline in fertility, among other factors. Grandparents are now more active and are often forced to assume parental responsibilities, yet they must deal with occasionally negative and stereotypical depictions of themselves in the media. The Falks' book attempts to eliminate these labels and make family members aware of grandparents' own individuality. (Prometheus, $21 paper 304p ISBN 1-57392-966-2; Aug. 31)

Scientific Thoughts

"I have started to write before many times, only to tear the letter into bits. For you are such a brillant [sic] person... I am just an average twelve year old girl in the 7A at Eliot Junior High School... You and my uncle, who is in the Coast Guard, are my heroes." So begins one of the many touching missives—on everything from the theory of relativity to a comic book about atoms—in Dear Professor Einstein: Albert Einstein's Letters to and from Children, edited by Alice Calaprice (The Quotable Einstein). Includes a thumbnail biography, an introduction by Einstein scholar Robert Schulmann and a foreword by the physicist's granddaughter, Evelyn Einstein. (Prometheus, $24 200p ISBN 1-59102-015-8; Sept.)

In the 1970s, when most aeronautics designers were interested in bigger and more powerful planes, engineer and all-around mad visionary Paul MacCready was obsessed with man-powered flight. L.A. Times writer Paul Ciotti has written a biography of MacCready, who built not only the Gossamer Condor, an award-winning man-powered plane, but also solar-powered planes and cars. More With Less: Paul MacCready and the Dream of Efficient Flight traces the sources of MacCready's inspiration and describes the community of maverick engineers and designers concentrated in Southern California (where MacCready worked). Threaded through the book are interviews with MacCready himself, who continues to work today and is particularly interested in renewable-resource technology. (Encounter [], $26.95 260p ISBN 1-893554-50-3; Sept.)