Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rest in Peace: A History of America's Cemeteries

Rest in Peace: A History of American Cemeteries by Meg Greene
Reading Level: Grade 7
Library Binding:
112 pages
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books (CT) (December 15, 2007)
Amazon Price: $24.48
Genre: Nonfiction
ISBN-13: 978-0822534143
Source of book: Review copy from publisher

Growing up in a small town in Southwestern Virginia, there seemed to be a church on nearly every corner. Many of those churches had their own cemeteries, and I remember always being both a little scared and a little fascinated with them. I would look at the graves, the names, the ages of the deceased, the families buried together and would imagine what their story was, how they died, what untold secrets were buried with them. The headstones themselves revealed a bit of their stories and were very intriguing: the statues, the epitaphs, the varying colors, sizes, and designs. As you can imagine, I was very excited to receive a copy of Rest in Peace: A History of American Cemeteries.

The book gives readers a history of cemeteries from the Native American burial grounds in 3000 B.C. to today's "green burials." Along the way, we learn about burial practices, traditions, and customs, along with the evolution of cemeteries from the unsanitary swampy churchyards to the well-groomed lawns we see today. We even learn about pet cemeteries, ethnic cemeteries, and New Orleans' struggle with burying people underground. And if readers are yearning for more information, the back of the book contains a time line, a source notes, a list of places to visits, and recommendations for more books and websites. The sepia-toned photographs throughout the book offer engaging visual support and give the book a somber tone appropriate for the discussion of cemeteries.

While the subject matter may not appeal to all kids, this throughly-researched book provides a comprehensive discussion of American cemeteries and tons of fascinating facts that make it a perfect choice a kid who's into history. It would also make an excellent resource for a history classroom.

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  1. I grow up with this fear of cemeteries. My grandpa used to tell me that it's because the leaving are always afraid of dying.

    Maybe, but I can't be nonchalant about cemeteries.

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  2. I have always loved the peacefulness of cemeteries and used to do grave rubbings of the headstones when I was younger. Thanks for mentioning this book - it sounds really interesting.