Monday, October 5, 2009

The Egypt Game, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Publisher: Random House, Inc.
Pages: 215
Reading Level: Ages 9 to 12 years
Awards: 1968 Newbery Honor Book
Enjoyment Level: Highest

I read a lot growing up. Reading has always been one of my favorite things to do, and when I was younger, I'd read the same books over and over. I think I may have checked Egypt Game out of the library a dozen or more times. I didn't understand what it meant that it was a Newbery Honor book, I just knew that I loved the story.

It focuses on an eleven-year-old girl, April, who is displaced when her mother sends her to live with her grandmother. April soon meets Melanie and they discover that they both love anything to do with Egypt. They discover a yard in the back of an antique shop and their little land of "Egypt" is born. Soon, there are six players and danger they have to overcome as friends.

Even though this book isn't technically a fantasy, there is plenty of magic in it. Not to sound pretentious, but it's the magic of imagination and youth. When I first read this, I remember being drawn into the story like no other I'd read (except maybe Witch of Blackbird Pond) and I wanted to have what the characters had.

Each of the players contributes to the storyline. They all have problems to overcome and very distinct personalities. The unfolding of the game, the friendships and the problem-solving all flow together seamlessly. It's a beautifully written story and it's timeless in its subject matter. No matter what technologies we are inundated with in our modern world, the ideas and themes of The Egypt Game rise above it all.

Teachers will find countless resources online for teaching with this book. That's one of the many benefits of being a Newbery book, but with the plot being ripe with theme, character development, and conflict, you can rely mostly on the text for teaching material. And the book is perfect for middle-grade readers.

If you've never read The Egypt Game, you're missing out. Go find a copy and read it. Everyone should have the opportunity to travel to Egypt.

Until next time, go read something good!

~ Vilate

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