Tutankhamun, by Demi (Marshall Cavendish Children, 2009) is a stunningly beautiful picture-book that brings ancient Egypt to gorgeous, gold-decorated life in true Demi style. It is truly one of the most handsome non-fiction books I've read-the pictures range from the humorously detailed (we loved the little wheels added to young Tutankhamun's toys) to the simply magnificent. For the illustrations alone, this one is a must to put in the hands of an Egypt loving child.
And the text is a worthy accompaniment to the illustrations. I thought I knew enough about King Tut to go on with, but this is one of those non-fiction books for children that makes clear the extent of one's adult ignorance. Unlike many books, which, I vaguely feel, focus on the treasure that was buried with him, and the rituals of Egyptian death rites, this book is a solid biography, with lots of excellent historical and cultural context. Now I know so much more not just about the details of the young king's life, but about the religious struggles that shaped his time and about the larger political situation of his Egypt.
This book does not talk down to its readers, but presents complex issues and ideas in a matter-of-fact way. I don't know if it will speak to all 6 to 9 year olds, but I can attest to the fact that it kept the rapt attention of my own boys. Already I am thinking ahead to the Third Grade Biography breakfast--this will be one I offer my first-grader when he reaches that point in his young life.
A truly excellent book on all counts for the child whose fascination with things Egypt goes beyond the grotesque appeal of mummification...
Demi is, incidentally, a favorite illustrator of mine; for those who want to learn more about her, here is a great interview at Paper Tigers.
Today's Non-Fiction Monday is being hosted by Sally Apokedak's blog, Whispers of Dawn.
(review copy received from the publisher)