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Mystery of the Egyptian Scroll (Kid Detective Zet) Paperback – August 19, 2012
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From the Author
A: Most readers will agree--something magical happens the first time you hear about ancient Egypt. Maybe you see a mummy movie or visit a museum. Or, like me, a teacher hands you a mysterious worksheet at school. At that moment of discovery, a jolt grips you with intense curiosity.
Q: Fascination draws you in?
A: Exactly. Who were these people? What did their strange symbols mean? How did they create such intense history and what were their daily lives like? You wonder what it would be like to walk the streets of ancient Egypt and see what they saw.
Q: What defining moment made you write about ancient Egypt?
A: On a school field trip to a museum, I saw a mummy in a glass case. The mummy's fingers were poking through the wrappings. When I got over how wonderfully creepy it looked, something happened. It dawned on me that those fingers, that hand, once did normal human things; tucked a child in at night, held another person's hand, brushed hair out of eyes on windy days. All thousands of years ago. Somehow, the emotion of the person was still there in that mummy. He wasn't just an artifact. He was a person with stories to tell. I decided then and there I wanted to give life to the ancient past in a way that was fun and approachable.
Q: What message do you have for your readers?
A: I know many of you are Egypt obsessed like me. Thanks for letting me share my love of ancient Egypt with you.
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I suspect that most middle graders have had enough of the Victorian era, or at least would be intrigued by something different. There are some interesting medieval-ish swordplay stories out there, and some interesting work set in a Native American context, or the Civil War or Revolutionary Eras, but after that the historical, not to mention foreign, venues get pretty thin. (To digress, I'm a little unnerved that the World War II, fifties and even sixties eras I actually know are starting to drift into what kids today would consider historical.)
This book nails time and place. We have a pre-Christian time and fabulous and romantic New Kingdom Egypt. Scott Peters has written other works for kids that explore ancient Egypt, (and mummies!), and he has seamlessly drawn all of that scholarship into the sights, sounds, colors, and feel of his Zet mysteries. The history and description isn't ladled on or weighed down by tedious exposition but rather is introduced subtly and naturally in the context of the telling of the adventure story.
As a consequence we get two kids, a brother and sister team, who are relatable and appealing and yet clearly of their time and circumstance. This is all presented in broad brushstrokes, (I wouldn't use this book as a research authority), which keeps it interesting and entertaining even while it is informative in a general and impressionistic way. The fact that there is a mystery, a theft, a conspiracy, and loads of chases just keeps the excitement and interest level high all of the way through to the satisfying conclusion.
So, a very happy and rewarding find with a lot of middle grade reader appeal. A very nice book to recommend.
Please note that I found this book while browsing Amazon Kindle freebies. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
The story is excellent and I decided to read it through. I found that most contractions are done incorrectly. I highlighted all of them intending to count them for the author. There were way to many to count. It looks as if there may be a glitch in printing and may
Additional information: The errors have been corrected and I have sent the corrected book to the great-grands. I am impressed that the author cared enough to respond to my problems and have them fixed.
As Zet and his sister wind their way through the streets of Thebes, the scents and sounds and activity of the thriving commercial city come alive. They meet many people in their quest from the man who grows papyrus to make into paper, to the blind lady on the side of the road, to the merchants in the market, to the high priest of the sacred Temple of Amenenopet. But they are not all as they seem. To save their family, Zet and Kat must learn who to trust, who has evil motives and what those evil motives are.
It is an action-packed mystery set in an ancient land with great attention to detail. I recommend this historical novel to all middle grade readers.