Saturday, December 19, 2009
National Geographic Live, Laugh, Celebrate
By: Ferdinand Protzman
Published by: National Geographic
Recommended Ages: 5 and up
I fully intended in the beginning of December to write about books that would make great gifts. And now here it is December 20, Hanukkah is over; Christmas is in five days, and not one post on "gift books." But all is not lost. For Hanukkah, I gave my 16-year-old daughter a new book from National Geographic, which she loves and which I think is worth writing about.
live, laugh, celebrate is a book about the many ways we celebrate life. It's mostly photographs, with small amounts of text explaining the ritual celebrations. There are shots from around the world, from the last fifty plus years.
The introduction begins: "At any given moment, like love, celebrations are an integral part of the human experience, practiced by every culture on the planet. Whether it is birth, birthday, graduation, victory in sport or battle, or a rite of passage, regardless of the country, the occasion, the place, the time, the number of participants, or the ceremony, human beings everywhere celebrate."
The book is divided into three chapters: Cycles of Life, Around the World and Life of the Party. Protzman writes an essay about each one of the chapters, which provides an interesting bit of background to what lies ahead. But, let's be honest, you buy a National Geographic book for the photos, and live, laugh, celebrate does not disappoint. There are 150 full-cover images from around the world.
For instance, in Cycles of Life, there are photographs of newborn babies from as far away as Eritrea, Senegal and Lithuania, swaddled with love as they are welcomed into the world. Childhood is celebrated across the globe with scenes ranging from boys in ceremonial skirts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo going off to a hunting camp to a Mexican-American girl celebrating her quinceanera in California. There are wedding celebrations from Kenya to India to Las Vegas (the cover photo of a bride in pink high-tops).
The pictures are lush and engrossing. You can't help but be drawn into their world, whether it is thousands of miles away, next door or fifty years ago.
If you have a child who yearns to see the world and how people live in other places, this would make a wonderful gift. Books like this and Material World, open up our eyes to the wonders that exist in and outside of our communities.