The Five Mile Press, £14.99, ISBN 978-1-74178-529-6
King Tutankhamun is without doubt the most popular Pharaoh of ancient Egypt, mostly because he died and was mummified when he was still a kid, there was that infamous curse associated with his tomb, and the trove of wealth in his tomb that was unearthed by Howard Carter and his team in 1922. The nicest stuff is kept in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and, because this is a book for kids and we don’t want them to lose their innocence so quickly, Howard Carter is portrayed as this hardworking and devoted man who did it all for the sake of keeping Egyptian history alive for the sake of those poor subjugated natives. Poor Theodore Davis – he’s mentioned here as the wealthy bloke who quit on Egypt because of ill health, allowing Howard to go ahead and reap all the glory.
The Search of Tutankhamun is a pretty nicely put together book for kids who want to get a taste of archeology and ancient Egypt, or to be more accurate, the thrill of making a great discovery of treasures and more. This book offers a comfortable and sweet portrayal of Howard Carter’s life as the little archeologist that could, as well as details related to the process of locating the tomb and some spotlight on what was found in the tomb. There is also the obligatory part on how mummies were made back in those days, too. Not much is mentioned of the dead dude’s reign as a pharaoh, but then again, not much is known of that in the first place. The poor dead bugger is famous because he left behind plenty of shiny stuff for Egypt’s white imperialists to discover. It’s all about the bling-bling, baby.
The narrative is easy to read and simple to understand. More importantly, it is not boring – some efforts are made to weave an entertaining narrative here – and there is no jargon overload. The illustrations are gorgeous, and there is a nice amount of photographs as well. There are also pop-ups in this book to give a 3D kind of experience to turning the pages, along with little notes and photos in envelopes attached to pages and such. All these gimmicks serve to create a more interesting visual and even interactive experience for kids who may be easily bored by more conventional books.
Reading this book makes it almost a shame that we can’t just charge into some third world country to plunder riches found in some tomb anymore, because it makes the whole experience seems like something everybody should go through at least once in life. But I guess that’s why we have books like these – so that we can do things vicariously, and wonderfully.
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