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Pyramid Paperback – April 26, 1982
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When children catch their first glimpse of a pyramid, a sea of questions inevitably tumbles forth. "Why are they shaped like that?" "How were they made?" "Who made them?" "What were they used for?" Perplexed adults can sigh with relief now that David Macaulay has found a way to thoroughly answer all those deserving questions. His exquisitely crosshatched pen-and-ink illustrations frame the engaging fictional story of an ancient pharaoh who commissions a pyramid to be built for him. With great patience and respect for minute detail (not unlike the creators of the early pyramids), Macaulay explains the sometimes backbreaking tasks of planning, hauling, chiseling, digging, and hoisting that went into the construction of this awe-inspiring monument. Just when the narrative teeters on the edge of textbook doldrums, Macaulay brings us back to the engaging human drama of death and superstition. This respectful blending of architecture, history, and mysticism will certainly satiate pyramid-passionate children as well as their obliging parents. ALA Notable Book. (Ages 9 and older) --Gail Hudson --This text refers to the School & Library Binding edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
First, the story seems just a little disjointed and jumps from one section to the next without much of a bridging narrative. Second, I'm not sure that some of the explanations are really geared for grade school students (although I'm sure that many will instantly grasp what Macaulay is explaining). For instance, though the explanation how the surveyors determined true north is perfectly logical and clear, it does require a passing acquaintance with the sidereal movement of stars in the sky.
There are a number of interesting facts in the book - how a newly constructed chamber would be filled with rubble and sand so workers and artist could finish the roof and ceiling and tops of columns (I wonder why they didn't bother with scaffolding).
I think what actually is missing is a definite story with characters that link the sections together. In Mill, it was the story of the Plimptons and the planning and construction of a water powered mill; in Castle, it was the story of Lord Kevin LeStrange and the planning and construction of a castle in Aberwyvern, Wales and the growth of a town around it.
Overall, this is not one of David Macaulay's best books but it does give pretty decent idea of how the great pyramids were constructed.