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Children's Nonfiction Exploration & Discovery

A Beginner's Guide to Immortality: From Alchemy to Avatars

by (author) Maria Birmingham

illustrated by Josh Holinaty

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
Nov 2015
Exploration & Discovery, Discoveries, Inventions, Folklore & Mythology, Customs, Traditions, Anthropology
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2015
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2015
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7


Is it possible to live forever? People have been trying to figure out a way to escape mortality since, well, forever. This book takes readers on a fast-paced tour of several wacky and wise methods humans have used to try prolonging their lives, from ancient immortality elixirs and quests for a fountain of youth to modern-day research into cryogenics and robotics.

Touching on folklore from around the world, famed literary immortals and studies of animals that seem unaffected by aging, the book delves into topics as diverse as genetics, religious rituals surrounding the afterlife and research into basic lifestyle choices, like eating blueberries or getting a pet, that could help you live longer. Each page is a playful mix of fascinating facts that open up cross-curricular topics in history, science and social studies to explore.

Illustrations of historical figures, imaginary places and scientific specimens add a touch of whimsy and bring out the beauty, sincerity, and playful side of human curiosity.

Informational text features: table of contents, introduction, chapters, sidebars, fact boxes, headers and labels, map, index and sources

About the authors

MARIA BIRMINGHAM is a longstanding contributor to OWL and Chickadee magazines, and the award-winning author of several books for young people, including Acting Wild, Biometrics, and A Beginner's Guide to Immortality: From Alchemy to Avatars. Maria lives in Brampton, Ontario.


Maria Birmingham's profile page


Josh Holinaty détient un diplôme du Alberta College of Art & Design. Il a illustré de nombreux livres et ses illustrations ont été publiées entre autres dans Wired, The New York Times et The Walrus. Josh a grandi en Alberta avec ses frères et soeurs qui essayaient toujours de lui prendre ses croustilles. Maintenant, il vit à Toronto, en Ontario, où il peut [enfin] manger ses croustilles en paix.


Josh Holinaty graduated from the Alberta College of Art & Design and has created illustrations for clients such as The New York Times, Wired, and The Walrus. Josh is also the illustrator of A Beginner's Guide to Immortality: From Alchemy to Avatars and It's Catching. Originally from Alberta, he now lives in Toronto, Ontario.


Josh Holinaty's profile page


  • Short-listed, Nominated for the 2017 Red Maple Nonfiction Award
  • Long-listed, Alberta Rocky Mountain Book Awards
  • Short-listed, Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction
  • Unknown, Canadian Science Writers' Association Science in Society Book Awards (shortisted), 2015
  • Unknown, One of Foreword Reviews's Best YA Titles of Winter 2016

Editorial Reviews

"A Beginner's Guide to Immortality has it all. Highly recommended." — Canadian Review of Materials

"A cornucopia of wise and wacky ways people have tried to achieve immortality, Birmingham's witty book will appeal to even the most reluctant readers...this handy reference tool offers an endless bounty of possible cross-curricular discussion ideas and topics for teachers, including science, social studies, and history." — The National Reading Campaign

"This fun, enjoyable read manages to inform and entertain—a combination perhaps as rare as the fountain of youth—and will be a welcome addition to both school and public libraries." — Booklist

"A tasty distillation of history, religion, chemistry, biology, technology, and pop culture." — Kirkus

"Birmingham offers a wide-ranging look at the myths...scientific efforts...and religious traditions surrounding the extension of life." — Publishers Weekly

"A highly recommended title that will fascinate readers from 9 to 90." — Resource Links

"A great introduction to a subject not often covered in children's nonfiction...seamlessly blends history, mythology, science and technology."

Canadian Children's Book News

"Birmingham takes readers on a lively tour of the many ways people have sought to cheat death throughout history...a visually striking, thought-provoking look at a topic that will encourage further investigation." — School Library Journal

"Humorous but informative...with fun facts and thought-provoking info...that is sure to pique the interest of even the least morbid kids." — Quill & Quire

"Light-hearted and, often, tongue-in-cheek...breezy enough in its style to be an enjoyable casual read, this beginner's guide also asks interesting questions. Recommended." — School Library Connection

"Whimsical...quirky...humorous and engaging. A must-read for anyone interested in science, magic, and everything in between." — Foreword Reviews

Other titles by Maria Birmingham

Other titles by Josh Holinaty