Gr 5 Up-Although this title reads like a promotion and recruiting tool, it is interesting, informative, and current. It is also unusual; the Peace Corps did not send volunteers to Europe until 1990, after the Cold War ended, so most books about it and its operations do not include the information found here. Mention is made of some of the hardships the volunteers endure, but emphasis is placed upon the invaluable rewards of such service. Ashabranner sketches the historical background of the countries enough to give readers an understanding of the political and economic situations in each. The text is liberally illustrated with black-and-white photos of the volunteers and the people with whom they worked. Entries in the two-page index are mostly names of volunteers mentioned in the text; only a few listings will refer report writers to specific topics. Although it will not replace books that discuss the traditional Peace Corps, this offering is a solid purchase for libraries that have a demand for material on careers.-Dona Weisman, Northeast Texas Library System, Garland
From "Dark Harvest: Migrant Farmworkers in America" (1985) to "An Ancient Heritage: The Arab-American Minority" (1991), the moving photo-essays of Ashabranner and Conklin have used individual stories to humanize big issues and open up new frontiers in books for young people. This time their subject is the more than 500 Peace Corps volunteers working in formerly Communist countries in Eastern Europe: who the volunteers are, why they are there, what they hope to do, and what it's like for Americans to live and work there. Ashabranner begins by discussing the Peace Corps and how it has changed over 30 years. Then first-person accounts and excellent informal photos show American men and women of various ages teaching English, advising business, helping homeless children, working with the environment, etc. The tone is upbeat, and the volunteers insist that they learn as much as they teach. A pity there's no bibliography or documentation of any kind. Ashabranner and Conklin are Peace Corps veterans, but kids might want to read more about the ideas and places mentioned here.