From School Library Journal
Grade 3-7–Employing his large, trademark cross-section or cut-away style illustrations that are full of detail and bustling small figures, Biesty, supported by Ross, uses the fictional construct of family members traveling to a wedding as a way of exploring various aspects of daily life in Egypt around the year 1230 B.C.E. The main narrative consists of not more than 1000 words, providing the broad outline of the journey and information about the sights along the way. The longer supplementary text includes labels identifying characters and objects in the illustrations; short paragraphs explaining what readers are looking at; and additional paragraphs providing more general information. Of course, the book's raison d'être is the artwork. Laid out in panoramic spreads, it demonstrates such important subjects as how the Egyptians farmed their land after the annual Nile flood, how their houses were constructed and utilized, and what went on at a busy harbor. Most of the information is available in other books, although such topics as hippo hunts and restrooms are less common. But the amount of detail included in Biesty's illustrations and the attention required to ferret all of it out make the book as visually stimulating as Martin Handford's Where's Waldo titles and almost as useful as the longer, more architectural books by David Macaulay. Librarians might be reduced to using magnifying glasses, but students with sharp eyes and an interest in ancient Egypt will have no trouble extracting what they want to know.–Coop Renner, Hillside Elementary, El Paso, TX
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Gr. 2-4. It isn't always easy to parse the intricate, sliced-and-diced diagrams of illustrator Biesty's cross-section books, which have covered a variety of subjects. But even newcomers to the books will quickly see the advantages of the versatile premise, which not only allows readers to see cross-sections of structures and landscapes but also demonstrates how a single layer, such as the uppermost contour of a limestone quarry, might change over time. In this title, which takes readers back to Ramses II-era Egypt, a slight story about a young boy's first trip down the Nile with his merchant father links 10 featured sites, each of which is minutely rendered and elaborately annotated with facts, commentary, and labeled pointers that locate recurring characters within the busy tableau. Particularly appealing to children will be the tiny, visual vignettes that contribute amusing levity to the epic goings-on; on almost every spread, there's at least one person (or animal) relieving itself. This isn't as scholarly as David Macaulay's Pyramid
but many young readers will prefer this book's lavish colors and entertaining seek-and-find elements. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved