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Life after death;Secondary;Reviews;Religious education;Books;Features and arts

THE CHILDREN'S ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HEAVEN. By Anita Ganeri. Element pound;14.99.

The point about Heaven is that it is beyond the imagination. It is also a point of faith, not knowledge. Any illustrated information book on the subject must be at least a little suspect.

That said, this is a lavish and very colourful (or, rather, colorful, as it uses American spellings) survey of how various cultures regard death, rebirth and the afterlife. It embraces not only the major faiths but also Chinese faiths, Jain, Viking, American Indian faiths, Baha'i and some New Age beliefs - not to mention astrology and poltergeists.

The illustrations are striking, there are many apt quotations and parables about dying and the possible inhabitants of Heaven and Hell, ranging from Mother Teresa to Zeus and Satan. Whatever else the book manages to achieve, it is certainly comprehensive.

David Self

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