cover image After Life: Ways We Think About Death

After Life: Ways We Think About Death

Merrie-Ellen Wilcox. Orca, $24.95 (88p) ISBN 978-1-45981-388-5

Author and hospice volunteer Wilcox (What’s the Buzz? Keeping Bees in Flight) skillfully tackles the subject of death and dying in this nonfiction book for middle grade readers. Six short chapters (“We Are Stardust” and “Healing After Loss” among them) discuss the physiology of death—one page details what happens to the body minutes, hours, months, and years after the event—as well as the beliefs and rituals surrounding life’s end over the millennia and across the globe. Full-color photographs and artwork, as well as definitions and sidebars, will pull curious readers into the factual pages, which cover everything from green burials and grief stages to physician-assisted death, cryonic suspension, and bioethics. Thorough and well organized, this book honors its intended audience’s ability to handle the subject matter, offering detailed scientific, mythological, historical, cultural, and religious takes on how people handle death (“During the Middle Ages, parents in Europe dressed their young children like adults to trick death into looking elsewhere for its prey”). Print and online resource lists, an extensive glossary, and an index conclude this meaningful, straightforward look at an often taboo topic. Ages 9–12. (Sept.)