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Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs Paperback – June 23, 2003


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Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs + The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle: Solving a Mystery of Ancient Egypt
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (June 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618333452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618333455
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 10.8 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A tale of heroic perseverance and discovery, Rumford's (The Cloudmakers) picture book biography of Jean-Fran?ois Champollion, the early-19th-century amateur scholar who first deciphered hieroglyphs, will fire the imagination. Elegant watercolors offer pivotal views of the determined young Frenchman, from his initial boyhood interest in Egypt through the years of solo study while teaching school in Grenoble, to his meeting with Napoleon, with whom he shared a passion for Egypt ("Napoleon dreamed of glory. Jean-Fran?ois dreamed of discovery"), his eventual breakthrough in 1822 and, finally, his expedition up the Nile. As adept with his pen as he is with his watercolor brush, Rumford etches his lucid prose with lyrical descriptions ("The rushing sound of the pharaoh's name, as if carried on wings across the centuries, filled the room"). Occasional hieroglyphs (suggesting "meet," "sailed," "dog," "celebrated" and so on) are inserted in the text but are too simplistic to intrigue readers. Much more effectively, the margins are peppered with examples of Egyptian words and their hidden meanings: "There is a long-necked, far-seeing giraffe in 'predict,' " for instance, and "There are strongly woven sandals firmly planted on the ground in 'never give up.' " An afterword provides further information, and a chart of a couple dozen hieroglyphic words offers a glimpse of the translation process. Ages 5-9. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5-This picture-book biography tells the intriguing story of the man who deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs. As a child, Jean-Fran?ois Champollion learned that no one could read Egyptian writing and determined that he would be the one to do so. By age 16, he had learned all the known ancient languages and was eager to work with scholars who were attempting to translate the hieroglyphs with the help of the Rosetta Stone. Though they turned him down, he doggedly pursued his passion on his own and at age 30, had a sudden breakthrough. While studying the name of a Pharaoh copied from a temple wall, he discovered that the characters were not just related to meaning, but also to sounds. Though the key to unlocking the secret may not be completely clear to children, Champollion's fascination with hieroglyphs and the realization of his dream will capture their interest and perhaps whet their curiosity for further study. Framed watercolor paintings done in soft blues, purples, and sunlit pinks evoke a sense of mystery compatible with the suspense of the scholar's discovery process. Small hieroglyphs are embedded in the text. Those with less-obvious meanings seem distracting at first reading. More effective are the larger, captioned ones in the margins that make the picture-meaning connection clear ("There is a long-necked, far-seeing giraffe in 'predict'"). Overall, an engaging introduction to a timeless topic.
Adele Greenlee, Bethel College, St. Paul, MN
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Written as a picture book so anyone of any age can enjoy the story.
Matt Jones
This is an informational picture book about Jean-Francois Champollion, the man who deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphs and founded Egyptology.
KGithens
At the end of the book, Rumford's last watercolor illustration (he is both author and artist) is evocative of the story.
Kathleen Rowley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Rowley on July 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Remember the first books you read? How the puzzling out of the symbols was as exciting as the story? This evocative book by James Rumford revisits that experience. He interweaves text and images to let us know how meaning can be discovered. It's a little like reading a mystery story made up of pictographic clues.
In structuring the story this way, Rumford is giving us the chance to do many things: relive our discovery of reading, learn the logic of a unique language, and imagine ourselves in the position of that of the subject of this book, the man who deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs, Jean-Francois Champollion.
Rumford's message is also a layered one, with the moral of the story reinforced by images within it. The moral: be curious, passionate and patient. First, imagine your dream. Then, pursue your dream even if others laugh at you or think you are too young. Eventually your belief in your dream will affect others, too, just as Jean-Francois's brothers were affected. They bought him notebooks for his hieroglyphs and took him to Paris to meet Egyptian scholars.
The structure of the Egyptian language, Rumford reveals, was in a curious combination of sight and sound. His telling of the tale made me wonder at all the steps the young Champollion went through to arrive at his eventual illumination of Egyptian hieroglyphics' meaning. When his powerful patron was discredited, when hours of study still revealed no answer, still he would not give up.
At the end of the book, Rumford's last watercolor illustration (he is both author and artist) is evocative of the story. I could feel the colors of Egypt, and the birds that inspired the symbols used in the language.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This beautifully illustrated children's picture book encourages children to dream and shows that dreams can be realized through hard work. I loved the fact that the hero of this book is a scholar. I think the book captures the essence of this great man's life and is an excellent introduction to Egyptology and the study of hieroglyphs. We need more books like this for children.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jimmie Lanley VINE VOICE on September 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We added this picture book to our sixth grade study of Ancient Egypt. (No, middle-schoolers are not too old for picture books. I'm not even too old for them!) The book is a well-told story of Champollion's childhood passion to decipher hieroglyphics which was fulfilled in his adulthood. There are attractive and thoughtful illustrations. But my daughter's favorite parts of the book are the hieroglyphic symbols scattered throughout the story. For example, one page has a goat with the caption, "There is a free-spirited kid goat in the Egyptian word 'imagine.'" Tidbits like that really made the language seem like a fun puzzle to solve and inspired my daughter to draw the pictographs as we read through the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Heiss on June 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This biography is so well done. James Rumford always gives you well-researched books, with clear and interesting illustrations. Most important, Rumford writes books kids LOVE and read again and again.

This book works some hieroglyphs into the text (cool) and along the sidebars (very cool) -- and it closes with a glossary of words with their hieroglyphs and -- get this -- EGYPTIAN PRONUNCIATIONS. Blow me away.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was looking for a book about someone related to Egypt for a lesson plan! When I found this book I was so excited! It fit perfectally with my hieroglyph lesson! It is wonderfully written with extraordinary illustrations! I not only recommend this book for teachers but for those interested in the subject of Egypt!!
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By Matt Jones on February 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very interesting story of the man who deciphered the Rosetta stone. Written as a picture book so anyone of any age can enjoy the story. Definitely glad I purchased this book.
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