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Children of the Lamp #1: The Akhenaten Adventure Hardcover – October 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

You can tell from the very first page that P. B. Kerr had great fun writing his novel, The Akhenaten Adventure. The way the author introduces his cleverly named characters, the atmospheric setting, the fun tone of his narration--all indicate that a hugely entertaining story is in store. The first installment of his Children of the Lamp sequence is set firmly in the present day, but it soon breaks away and encompasses several wonderfully colorful parts of the globe, England and Egypt included.

John and Philippa Gaunt, two twelve-year-old not-very-identical twins, live a privileged life on the Upper East of Manhattan with their wealthy parents and two curiously-mannered Rottweilers named Alan and Neil. The twins realize there's something amiss with their world when a string of strange things begin to happen after their wisdom teeth are extracted--they dream the same dreams, become stronger, their zits clear up, and wishes wished in their presence inexplicably come true. And, when their estranged Uncle Nimrod asks them to come to England for the summer during one such shared dream, the discovery of their destiny is set in motion.

John and Phillippa discover that they are descended from a long line of Djinn, have great inherent powers. They must call on these powers a lot sooner than they anticipated, though, because the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten is not as dead as history has so far declared and his legion of seventy magical djinn could tip the balance of power in the magical realm and affect the whole world order.

P.B. Kerr, under his given name Philip Kerr, is the author of several bestselling thrillers for adult readers. His debut novel for children is a slick, zeitgeisty fantasy adventure that is sure to win him a new raft of fans. The Blue Djinn of Babylon is next up for those who get hooked. (Age 10 and over) --John McLay

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8–In this uneven fantasy, 12-year-old twins live a privileged but uneventful life in New York City until both John and Philippa need to have their wisdom teeth extracted. Afterward, the children begin to experience strange growth spurts, have cravings for smoke and heat, and gain the ability to grant wishes. After inviting them to visit him in London, their Uncle Nimrod informs them that they are descended from the Marid tribe of djinn. As he begins their training, they travel to Egypt, where they are pursued by Iblis, the leader of an enemy tribe who thinks Nimrod knows the location of the lost tomb of Akhenaten. This pharaoh bound 70 djinn to his service and whoever finds his tomb will have the ability to command them and shift the balance of power from good to evil. As they travel around the world, the siblings and their uncle have numerous adventures, culminating in an encounter with Akhenaten's ghost. The writing has a cinematic quality as Kerr provides detailed glimpses at the changing scenery; at times, there is too much description, particularly of room furnishings. In-depth characterizations are sacrificed for the often humorous, fast-moving plot. For a more complex and satisfying fantasy about djinn, try Jonathan Stroud's "Bartimaeus Trilogy" (Miramax).–Sharon Rawlins, Piscataway Public Library, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 900L (What's this?)
  • Series: Children of the Lamp (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Orchard Books (October 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439670195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439670197
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #455,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Kerr was born in Edinburgh in 1956 and read Law at university. Having learned nothing as an undergraduate lawyer he stayed on as postgraduate and read Law and Philosophy, most of this German, which was when and where he first became interested in German twentieth century history and, in particular, the Nazis. Following university he worked as a copywriter at a number of advertising agencies, including Saatchi & Saatchi, during which time he wrote no advertising slogans of any note. He spent most of his time in advertising researching an idea he'd had for a novel about a Berlin-based policeman, in 1936. And following several trips to Germany - and a great deal of walking around the mean streets of Berlin - his first novel, March Violets, was published in 1989 and introduced the world to Bernie Gunther.
"I loved Berlin before the wall came down; I'm pretty fond of the place now, but back then it was perhaps the most atmospheric city on earth. Having a dark, not to say black sense of humour myself, it's always been somewhere I feel very comfortable."
Having left advertising behind, Kerr worked for the London Evening Standard and produced two more novels featuring Bernie Gunther: The Pale Criminal (1990) and A German Requiem (1991). These were published as an omnibus edition, Berlin Noir in 1992.
Thinking he might like to write something else, he did and published a host of other novels before returning to Bernie Gunther after a gap of sixteen years, with The One from the Other (2007).
Says Kerr, "I never intended to leave such a large gap between Book 3 and Book 4; a lot of other stuff just got in the way; and I feel kind of lucky that people are still as interested in this guy as I am. If anything I'm more interested in him now than I was back in the day."
Two more novels followed, A Quiet Flame (2008) and If the Dead Rise Not (2009).
Field Gray (2010) is perhaps his most ambitious novel yet that features Bernie Gunther. Crossing a span of more than twenty years, it takes Bernie from Cuba, to New York, to Landsberg Prison in Germany where he vividly describes a story that covers his time in Paris, Toulouse, Minsk, Konigsberg, and his life as a German POW in Soviet Russia.
Kerr is already working on an eighth title in the series.
"I don't know how long I can keep doing them; I'll probably write one too many; but I don't feel that's happened yet."
As P.B.Kerr Kerr is also the author of the popular 'Children of the Lamp' series.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 64 people found the following review helpful By BookBuzz on November 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When the initial PR on a book is about how much the publisher is going to spend on marketing the book, I feel it's fair game to factor this information into the review. Orchard Books ( a division of Scholastic) is positioning a British import, CHILDREN OF THE  LAMP: THE AKHENATEN ADVENTURE, as the first installment of another flagship franchise. Two more books have been contracted and Dreamworks has purchased the film rights. Could it be another Harry Potter? But CHILDREN OF THE LAMP if filled with potential.

THE AKHENATEN ADVENTURE has the scope of an epic adventure, moving rapidly from New York, to London, to Cairo, to Russia, and even to the polar ice cap. It's opening earthquake sequence in the Egyptian desert with a native artifact hunter and his son is evocative of an Indiana Jones adventure. It's London museum crime caper calls images of Thomas Crown or maybe Artemis Fowl.

The book is also populated by interesting characters including twins who are unaware of their destiny, an adventurous uncle, a one armed butler, and two dogs with a past. Like Harry, twelve-year-old John and Philippa Gaunt discover that they are not ordinary. When both have an early arrival of wisdom teeth, the truth of their heritage starts to emerge - they are part of a powerful clan of Djinn. Unlike Harry, however, the reader may find it hard to empathize with the twins who live in Manhattan, in an extremely privileged family, and seem to be spoiled beyond reason. Also like the boy wizard, the twins find themselves to be central characters in a great battle of good and evil - or more accurately, good luck and bad luck.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on October 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
John and Philippa Gaunt are the most unidentical twins ever. They don't look one bit alike or even wear the same colors. They do, however, think in similar ways. Their parents are wealthy, and another odd pair. Mrs. Gaunt is young, beautiful, tall and athletic. Her husband is very short with gray hair and glasses.

The twins would like to change the names of the family dogs from Alan and Neil to Elvis and Winston. Despite Mr. Gaunt's strenuous disapproval, they get their mother's permission. Somehow it doesn't seem all that unusual that the dogs take themselves to the vet when they're sick and put coins in parking meters. But the twins do find it odd that, when their wisdom teeth are removed, they share a dream under anesthesia --- a dream in which they meet their estranged Uncle Nimrod, who suggests they ask their parents to send them to London to visit him for summer vacation. Amazingly, their parents agree. Even more incredibly, their father acts rather afraid of his children.

Other weird things have happened to the twins lately. John had a nightmare and woke up to find the mirror on his wall cracked in the identical way that a wall in Cairo cracked during an earthquake. John's pimples cleared up. When people wish out loud around Philippa, their wishes mysteriously come true. But the most startling event of their lives will occur when Uncle Nimrod tells them who they really are. John and Philippa are off for a tremendous adventure, which will include traveling to Cairo, the Arctic Circle, and to the inside of a vase (!). They'll also fight evil for the good of mankind, giving them quite a bit of material for those "What I Did for Summer Vacation" school essays.

I wholeheartedly recommend THE AKHENATEN ADVENTURE to anyone who enjoys fantasy.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Avidreader on December 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
AA is another overhyped children's book, attempting to grab a little of that Harry Potter sales magic. It starts with a reasonably promising premise - twins who discover that they are half-djiin - and has a reasonably well-thought out story. The problem is that it is all artificial. The author (a successful adult fiction writer) has no feel for the genre, and consequently the children are rather wooden, the humour forced, and there is no sense of wonder. Add to that the rather cynical elements such as setting the opening in New York and the slightly offensive names given to some of the foreign characters and you have a disappointing, bandwagon-jumping, pudding. Publishers and authors would do well to remember that we love Harry Potter because we sympathise and empathise with Harry, Hermione and Ron, and because they are tales of friendship, loyalty and courage. Our favourtie stories have heart and soul: it's not just a question of ticking off the ingredients on a childrens' book recipe.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Paige Turner on November 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
I had high hopes for the book's premise --- twins who discover they're djinn (genies). And it's clear that the author spent a great deal of time working out the detail of the djinn world and the rules by which it operates. If only he'd spent a minute or two thinking about his characters and what makes them tick. The book is a plot-driven mess. Throughout the story, the young protagonists are uprooted from a mundane life in New York City, travel to distant places, face unprecedented dangers, possible eternal confinement in a bottle and witness brutality and death. But neither ever misses home, feels overwrought or ambivalent about their djinn status? Or maybe they did because actually at no point did I have a clue how either of them felt about anything. The book reads like a cartoon, with gags and one-liners, but no feeling, no heart. I didn't care a whit about any of the characters. I can't un-recommend it enough.
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