Tutankhamun, by Demi, for Non-fiction Monday

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)


  1. I love Demi's work, can't wait to see this one!

  2. Demi could illustrate the phone book and it would be a success. I may have to find this one next time I'm in an Amelia Peabody mood...

  3. It's amazing what Demi is doing for historical nonfiction. I can't wait to see what his next book is about. I'm sure it will be amazing too!

  4. Thanks to Sarah, I now have an image of the plumbing section of the yellow pages jazzed up with lots of gold decoration--pretty!

    (I thought Demi was a "he" too, but I just read an interview with her at Paper Tigers -- http://www.papertigers.org/interviews/archived_interviews/demi.html -- in which I learned I was wrong! I shall go put this link into the post now...)

  5. This sounds wonderful. We're going to be studying Egypt in the fall and my daughter is quite a fan of the Theodosia books so this will definitely go on our reading list.

  6. This sounds great. I don't know Demi (I shall have to have a look for more by her) but as a kid I was mesmerised by Tutankhamun and the story of how his tomb was discovered so I can barely resist this book :-) Have added it to my wishlist!

  7. Stunning!


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