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Macdonald (First Facts About the Ancient Romans, 1997, etc.) attempts to explain past history through the experiences of children from various cultures and time periods, noting that the details of their lives did not always merit recording or preserving: “They had little money and hardly any power, so few writers or artists thought it worthwhile to record their lives.” Every spread, arranged roughly chronologically, describes a different topic or culture, e.g., “Ancient Egypt,” “Toys and Games,” “The Children’s Crusade,” “Benin,” “The French Revolution,” etc. A sidebar covers a particular child from that place and time, among them, Princess Amat al-Aziz of Baghdad, a.d. 758, who “had the deepest desire to do good”; Egil Skallagrimsson, a young Icelander who killed his playmate at age six; Nathan Field, an actor with Shakespeare’s troupe; and Anne Frank, who may be the most famous child of WWII, an era otherwise given sparse treatment. Full-color drawings by five artists, historical photographs, and thumb-sized world maps accompany a text that runs between understatement and exaggeration; Macdonald’s idea is certainly a good one, but it may be that the coverage, attempting uniformity where none exists, is simply too uneven. (chronology, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-689-81378-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998

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Just in time for the millennium comes this adaptation of Jennings and Brewster’s The Century (1998). Still a browsable, coffee-table edition, the book divides the last 100 years more or less by decade, with such chapter headings as “Shell Shock,” “Global Nightmare,” and “Machine Dreams.” A sweeping array of predominantly black-and-white photographs documents the story in pictures—from Theodore Roosevelt to O.J., the Panama Canal to the crumbling Berlin Wall, the dawn of radio to the rise of Microsoft—along with plenty of captions and brief capsules of historical events. Setting this volume apart, and making it more than just a glossy textbook overview of mega-events, are blue sidebars that chronicle the thoughts, actions, and attitudes of ordinary men, women, and children whose names did not appear in the news. These feature-news style interviews feature Milt Hinton on the Great Migration, Betty Broyles on a first automobile ride, Sharpe James on the effect of Jackie Robinson’s success on his life, Clara Hancox on growing up in the Depression, Marnie Mueller on life as an early Peace Corps volunteer, and more. The authors define the American century by “the inevitability of change,” a theme reflected in the selection of photographs and interviews throughout wartime and peacetime, at home and abroad. While global events are included only in terms of their impact on Americans, this portfolio of the century is right for leafing through or for total immersion. (index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-385-32708-0

Page Count: 245

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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It took four weeks for illustrations of scenes from the US’s Civil War battles to make it from the front lines to readers’ hands; Morrison (Cheetah, 1998, etc.) explains that process in his uniquely handsome book. Morrison introduces the fictional artist, William Forbes, commissioned by the fictional Burton’s Illustrated News to follow the Union Army into battle at Bull Run. Throughout the day’s fighting Forbes makes quick sketches; it is risky business, and he is often in mortal peril. That night he makes a more complete drawing, which is handed to a courier and taken back to the Burton offices. There, engravers set to work translating Forbes’s drawing to a grid of wood blocks (Morrison includes interesting incidentals along the way, giving the process its due). The images are converted to electrotype, whereafter it is finally ready for the operators and pressman. Shortly after that, the newsboys are seen hawking the illustrated weekly, containing Forbes’s image a mere month after the actual event. Morrison successfully renders the complexities of illustrating newspapers 150 years ago, and just as successfully conveys that in abandoning the wood block for the photograph, some of the art was sacrificed for speed. (glossary) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-91426-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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