From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7–For thousands of years the Sphinx at Giza has gazed east toward the Nile River. Today, within hundreds of yards from its base, buses unload tourists at the edge of Cairo's urban sprawl. Giblin recounts the history of this monolithic symbol of power and the problems of erosion, air pollution, and tourism that face it today. He provides background on the location, hieroglyphic writing, Egyptian religion, and the flourishing of Fourth Dynasty (considered responsible for the creation of the Sphinx). He weaves ancient legends about the monument with commentary from a first-century visitor (Pliny) and modern-day controversies. Giblin also covers the recent discovery of a workers' settlement at the Giza Plateau and what this tells us about the builders of the monuments. However, his recounting of the story of the destruction of Atlantis and its relationship to the Edgar Cayce Foundation's continued efforts to find a "records chamber" under the statue is a lengthy and confusing digression. Sand-toned paintings reveal the Sphinx in its ancient and modern grandeur and provide readers with an idea of the work performed by laborers at Giza. A simple, attractive map highlights important sites. While many books on ancient Egypt mention the Sphinx, this is the only title devoted exclusively to the topic for this audience. Pairing Secrets
with Zahi Hawass's Curse of the Pharaohs
(National Geographic, 2004) will provide readers with additional context and bring them up-to-date on archaeological work in the region.—Daryl Grabarek
, School Library Journal
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Gr. 7-12. The facts are amazing: the Great Sphinx of Egypt is nearly 4,500 years old; it is as long as a city block and as tall as a six-story building. Just as thrilling are the unsolved secrets. Who built the Sphinx and the three huge pyramids it appears to guard? Is the Sphinx a portrait of a particular pharaoh? In his signature plain style, the award-winning nonfiction author presents a wealth of scholarship, including perspectives on ancient Egypt's rich history and culture, the Rosetta Stone, and urgent contemporary issues of restoration and preservation. Giblin spends too much time on crank theories about the Sphinx not being the work of the ancient Egyptians, but he vividly conveys the drama of recent discoveries, especially archaeological excavations that reveal startling new information about how the Sphinx was built and about the skilled men--and women--who labored to create it. The handsome book design helps make the complex text accessible. The picture-book-size layout is spacious, and the photorealistic gouache and watercolor illustrations are beautiful, including paintings of the desert, close-ups of the sculptured face, details of hieroglyphics, and portraits of famous figures through history. Giblin discusses how he used each of his sources in the combined "Source Notes and Bibliography," and many readers will want to follow his trail. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved