- Age Range: 8 - 11 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 4
- Lexile Measure: 900L (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 48 pages
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (May 8, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374323356
- ISBN-13: 978-0374323356
- Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 0.4 x 10.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle: Solving a Mystery of Ancient Egypt Hardcover – May 8, 2002
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When King Tut's tomb was discovered in Egypt in 1922, the world was abuzz. What would be the next big, newsworthy archaeological find? Might it be Giza 7000X, a secret Egyptian tomb buried deep within the earth? Claudia Logan and Melissa Sweet (with the cooperation of The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston) answer that question and ask a few more in The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle, their truly splendid picture book for older readers. Readers follow a fictional family to Egypt in 1924 to an actual expedition led by Dr. George Reisner. Written in diary form from the perspective of young Will Hunt, who joins the expedition, the book is immediate and engaging, communicating the mystery and excitement of an archaeological dig like nothing we've seen.
Illustrated with wonderful, color-soaked paintings as well as collages of authentic documents and artifacts from the Giza 7000X site, this richly visual diary is as entertaining as it is educational. Young readers will revel in the "you are there" glimpse of an archaeological dig, learning that excavation can sometimes be as much about fleas and dust as it can be about mummies or, say, a solid gold lion's leg. Sidebars about pharoah's curses, cartouches, and heiroglyphs sit alongside enthusiastic postcards from the boy to his friends back home in Boston: "What are we doing? Picking up things hour after hour with TWEEZERS. If someone sneezes or trips--there goes 5,000 years of history down the drain." As Will lives behind the pyramids, he witnesses the discovery of a secret tomb... but whose is it? Can the team solve the mystery before Will and his parents return to America? Highly recommended. (Ages 8 and older) --Karin Snelson
From Publishers Weekly
Logan (Scruffy's Museum Adventure) uses a fictional boy hooked on ancient Egypt to guide readers through a real archeological dig in this gripping and entertaining picture book mystery. Young Will Hunt cannot wait to travel with his parents to Giza in 1924 Egypt. There, living right behind the pyramids, he is eyewitness to the discovery of a secret tomb and an excavation led by Harvard archaeologist Dr. George Reisner. The author organizes the narrative into the boy's diary entries, and postcards home from Will to his friend Sam add immediacy and humor to the events (I hope something happens or I'm 'tombed' to eternal boredom). Readers get a taste of both the painstaking day-to-day grunt work of an archeological dig and the thrill of uncovering the tomb's contents. But the real hook of the book is its central mystery: Who lies in the tomb? As the team progresses, they find strange twists: the usual burial practices have not been followed. Sweet (Ten Little Lambs, reviewed above) toggles between a visual narrative, in which she develops the relationships among the various members of the dig, and a lively presentation of information, with abundant sidebars; the author here explains everything from mummification to the tools of an archeologist's trade to ancient grave robbing. The artist's own paintings, set against a sun-baked backdrop, share space with such archival materials as period photographs, object register notations and more (the book was written in cooperation with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which exhibits reproductions of the expedition's yield). Ancient Egypt aficionados will find much to ponder here. Ages 8-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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It's laid out somewhat like a scrapbook with lots of sidebar notes, postcards, and sketches adorning the basic story's text. Plenty of other reviews have covered the story itself, so I won't go into that. What I liked about the book is that it's a view of Ancient Egypt from an early 19th century archaeologist's perspective. The modern Egyptians also play a part in the story; it's not all about the American scientists.
If you have a child who loves archaeology and solving mysteries, this book will be a winner. My daughter enjoyed coming up with her own explanations as we read through the book. Actually the mystery is not definitively solved. There are two possibilities, but the open-ended nature of the tomb's discovery is a great opportunity to practice logical thinking - does your explanation fit the facts?
We follow Will's adventures through his journal entries and postcards back home to his friend Sam, another member of the King Tut Club. Artist Melissa Sweet's illustrations, created in acrylic and watercolor, consist of luminous paintings of the pyramids and inventive collages of authentic documents and artifacts. Throughout the book there are sidebars providing information on ancient Egypt regarding the layout of the Great Royal Cemetery at Giza, cartouches, and hieroglyphs, as well as explaining the tools and tricks of the archeological trade. From pouring over "The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle" young readers will come to appreciate the process by which archeologists unearth the past. Logan and Sweet also provide a sense of the time involved; Will saves a postcard telling about all the digging he has to do and there is a point where everyone sits around and waits for four months Dr. Reisner to return so they finally open the alabaster sarcophagus that has been found.
Even more impressive is the revelation that the puzzle of this title is one still waiting to be solved. Consequently, after suffering with Will through the tedious and painstaking tasks that are involved in discovering and opening an Egyptian tomb, young readers get to exercise their minds as well to come up with an explanation that fits the eight clues revealed through the book (do not worry; they are listed at the end to help). Dr. Reisner and a modern archeologist offer their own explanations, but the key thing here is that no one knows for sure. Whether teachers find a way of using this book for a class discussion or assign a bright student to do a report on it for class, "The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle" is a great opportunity for challenging young minds to make their own judgments about each clue and come up with their own conclusions about "what really happened." The rests of us can hazard our own guesses as well.