The concept of time is one that is both basic and complex. Each moment that we live encompasses the passage of time. Yet, what is time and how do we measure it? These questions appear quite elementary and still, for most of recorded history, human beings had no accurate way to gauge the passing of time. In Clocks, in the Great Inventions series, James Lincoln Collier offers readers a look into the world of time and the effort mankind has made to keep track of it. In this book Collier begins in pre-history and gradually moves forward to the modern world of atomic clocks and computerized approaches to timekeeping. During the course of Collier's study of clocks the author notes that it was only in the 14th century that any regular means of gauging time became common in Europe. From those days forward the concept of timeliness and labor practices based upon specific hours evolved. Once mankind had ways and means to measure time that pursuit fundamentally altered the way people thought about their days. Thus, as Collier notes in this well researched book, clocks were a human invention that subsequently controlled portions of daily life. This interesting irony lies at the heart of this carefully developed study of the world of clocks. In the end readers of this solid work will come away with both more information about clocks and a timely look into one aspect of human inventiveness. 2003, Benchmark Books, Ages 12 up.
Greg M. Romaneck
Gr 6-8-- Once again the Colliers have teamed up to write solid, well-researched, exciting historical fiction. Annie Steel, 15, lives in Connecticut in 1810, where the new textile mill heralds the beginning of a new age. Her spendthrift father, unable to resist such purchases as the newly invented clock, gets deeply in debt, and Annie must go to work in the mill. There she fends off the sexual advances of the cruel overseer who physically abuses the workers, even causing the death of Annie's disabled friend. When she discovers that the man is a thief, she bravely exposes him. In an addendum, the Colliers pose the question of whether or not progress--in this case the switch from ``sun time to clock time''--is always for the better. Annie is a memorabe character whose presence serves to point out the limited options available to women at that time. Fact and fiction are skillfully blended in this fast-paced, thought-provoking look at early 19th-century New England. --Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME