cover image The Century That Was: Reflections on the Last One Hundred Years

The Century That Was: Reflections on the Last One Hundred Years

. Atheneum Books, $19.95 (166pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82281-0

Giblin (The Mystery of the Mammoth Bones) assembles an impressive collection of children's authors to put into context many of the major accomplishments, setbacks and changes that have occurred over the 20th century. The 11 essays show tremendous range in voice and scope. Walter Dean Myers's essay on the civil rights movement, Penny Colman's piece on emerging roles and rights for women, and Laurence Pringle's discussion of environmental conservation spotlight strong leaders within a larger historical overview and leave readers with a call to action. Katherine Paterson, on the other hand, matches her approach to her subject in a highly personal and beautifully crafted essay on the Protestant faith she and her missionary father shared, and the many developments that impacted the religion through the course of the century. Jim Murphy and Lois Lowry offer lighter fare: Murphy takes an entertaining look at the evolution of cars and planes, while Lowry reflects on the way the women in her family reinvented themselves through clothing and style over the generations. The lasting effects of WWI in ""setting the stage for murderous tyrannies"" throughout the world and the paranoia it bred at home comes through in Albert Marrin's (Sitting Bull, reviewed below) chilling essay. There is also criticism of where we're going in Bruce Brooks's impassioned look at the professionalization of children in sports. What unites these perspectives are a sharp analysis of history, fine writing and, for the most part, an optimistic sense of progress to lead us into the next 100 years. Ages 10-up. (May)