Further cementing its status as a living classic, the first Newbery winner (1922) returns sporting an eighth update.
Following the practice of van Loon himself and subsequent co-authors over the years, Sullivan leaves the original text, with its often puckish line drawings, virtually untouched and seamlessly appends topical chapters (12 in all) written in the same conversational style. The previous update having appeared in 1999, Sullivan covers major events from the Y2K panic and 9/11 to Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012. He also glances at China (in a chapter characteristically titled “China Is Back / Not that it ever went away”) and offers overviews of the Arab Spring and the late worldwide economic “Downturn.” On more thematic notes, he also comments in a cautionary way on the rise of new social media and more approvingly on how the notion that governments owe official apologies for historical atrocities committed against minority or other groups has recently taken hold. Readers of the 77 chapters that precede the new content will find that though some of the language (“Wherever food was plentiful, thither man has travelled”) and, surprisingly rarely, attitudes are dated, the vivid storytelling and steady focus on the human element exert an appeal that hasn’t aged a bit.
Still valid in broad outline if not detail and, as ever, a grand and thought-provoking read. Those early Newbery voters knew value when they saw it. (timeline) (Nonfiction. 11-14)