Posts tagged ‘archaeology’

EGYPTIAN EXPLORERS

Hieroghyph (TC’S ADVENTURES BOOK 1)

Written by WJ Scott

Illustrated by John Helle-Nielsen

Hieroglyph,pic

I will be honest in saying that this book was different from what I expected. The cover is a bit of a mystery and the table of contents lists numbers only with no word clues. Once into the book, the reader is quickly drawn into the narrative. Thirteen year old TC is sitting in the Vice-Principal’s office trying to explain how she knew where a stolen ring could be found. TC lives with her Aunt Letty in New Zealand since her archaeologist parents were killed in a cave in. Aunt Letty is off on an environmental expedition, and TC will be going off to spend a weekend with her uncle in Australia.

Here is where the book takes a dramatic departure. The reader learns that TC has a special gift. She is able to time travel and connect with past history when she touches hieroglyphs. Her uncle Max is trying to get funding for an archaeological expedition to prove that ancient Egyptians traveled to Australia in search of gold.

I will not reveal details of the plot, but Scott seamlessly takes the reader back and forth as TC alternately explores the shipwreck and explorations of Prince Setka and Prince Kanefer in ancient times and back into the present with TC, her Uncle Max, her friends and enemies who seek to undo their discoveries. Characters are well developed and the narrative carefully written to make the plot believable. TC is a strong-willed female who faces modern problems and crises, while longing to solve the mysteries of the past.

Targeted for readers nine and older, the book will appeal to younger and older audiences. Promises to be a good series for lovers of ancient Egypt, adventure, mystery and intriguing characters.

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A WALK THROUGH THE PAST

Egyptian Diary: Journal of a Young Scribe

Written by Richard Platt

Illustrated by David Parkins

eGYPTIAN DIARY2

An unusual picture book in size and scope. I read the paperback version, written in large print and generous in its approximately 10 X 13 inch size. This book is written in first person diary format. Nakht is a nine year old boy living in the reign of Pharaoh Hatshepsut in ancient Egypt. His father has just been given a promotion in the city of Memphis. Nakht writes in his diary about his adventure, including lots of details about daily life in Egypt, cultural mores, religion, farming, hunting, and craftsmen. The plot takes a dramatic turn when Nakht and his sister, Tamyt discover a tomb robber conspiracy which will take them to the city of Thebes and land them in the court of the palace of Hatshepsut. They are astonished to discover that the Pharaoh is a woman.

Illustrated with beautiful color drawings by Parkins, the reader is transported back 3,500 years. These drawings are beautifully done; the expressions of the faces are somewhat exaggerated to display characters’ emotions. The author provides an extensive appendix which includes notes about geography, society, religion, the pyramids and archaeology.

Targeted for children in grades four through seven, the large pictures might even draw the attention of children slightly younger. Generally recommended for children in the eight to twelve year old range. Anyone interested in ancient Egyptian history will delight in this book. Great choice for homeschooling parents as a fine introduction to the study of this topic.

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WELL-DESERVED PRAISE

The Hunt for the Well Hidden Treasure: K.I.D.S. Adventure Series

Written by Bob Sheard and Timothy Taylor

 

huntforwellhiddentreasure,pic

El Cazador, a Spanish pirate, has just stolen The King’s Cross, but his ship is surrounded by cannon fire. Desperate to escape, he slips over the side of his ship, deserting the rest of his crew. As he makes his way to shore, he knows that the Mexican revolutionaries will soon be after him. The captain decides to bury the heavy chest.

Almost two hundred years later on September 15, 2013, the town of Knightsbridge, California is going wild with the news that skeletal remains of a notorious pirate have been found by hikers in a cavern. His leather journal lay nearby containing the details that he was returning to find a hidden treasure. Professional organizations and local treasure hunters are already hard at work seeking to discover the chest.

Will and his father have recently moved to Knightsbridge; Will has few friends. He is intelligent and clever and immediately becomes interested in treasure-hunting. When Mikey discovers Will’s research notes, he cannot wait to share them with his two best friends, Evelyn and Susan. Fate and mutual curiosity will throw  all of them together into a partnership. The foursome will face challenges from international organizations, fellow students and entrepreneurs, but they will pool their intelligence, computer skills, and mechanical abilities to sort through all possibilities until they finally solve the mystery.

Will they find the treasure and become rich? Needless to say, the adventure leaves them determined to set up a detective agency to solve future mysteries and reward readers with lots of adventures. This book has a plot with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, the dialogue is authentic to middle grade students, and the characters appealing and well-developed. Targeted for ages eight through twelve, but written well enough for older teens as well. Detective story fans might just have a new series to follow.

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NEOLITHIC NIGHTMARES

Angel Bones (Angel Cats)

Written by Linda Deane

Angel Bones,pic

This is the second book in a series exploring the somewhat mystical and supernatural powers of cats. But make no mistake, this book is not a fantasy novel. It is set in the neolithic age on the island of Cyprus on which recent archaeological excavation has revealed, cats were present in the neolithic period, about six thousand years before their domestication in Egypt.

It is a short novella, yet the plot explores characters in depth and there are many twists and turns in the adventurous life of Melita, Yannis and their three children. They have been driven from their home on the mainland to flee in a makeshift boat in the dark of night due to the jealousy and superstition of their peers. A trader named Andros attempted to woo Melita and when she refused him, he spread rumors implicating her as a sorceress because of her gift in communicating with animals, especially the strange creatures later known as cats. He was also jealous of Melita’s husband, who was a gifted tool maker and pottery artisan. Their terror escalated until the family feared for their lives.

Eventually they land on an island only to find a strange people who had never seen cats. Over a period of time, the family earns the trust and respect of the village. However, as they settle into a peaceful existence, trouble looms on the horizon once more as a hunting party from the mainland arrives to stir up trouble in the tranquil settlement. Melita and her daughter called Eleni will have to summon all their strength and powerful connections with Tammy, their cat, in a desperate effort to survive and save the community.

The author develops the characters well; the reader quickly identifies with the personalities of each and the conflicts each must face, whether they be good or evil in intent. There are many twists and turns in this short read. One senses the overwhelming hardships and difficulties early humans faced in their daily existence in the face of the powerful forces of nature and the brute force of a “might makes right” philosophy. Tweens, teens and adults will all enjoy this carefully researched historical fiction story with just a tinge of the supernatural. I am looking forward to more in the series.

WEIRD AND WONDERFUL

Weird Animals: It Came From Planet Earth! Strange, Weird and Unusual Animals

By: Maya Lee Shye

 Weird Animals

This book is a fascinating study of the habitat and behavior of strange animals living on land, in the sea and up in the air on planet earth. Also unusual is its appeal to all ages from younger children through adults. The author describes more than thirty animals and provides a photograph of each. Some of these have been on earth for millions of years. That’s right, the Coelacanth is the oldest jawed fish still alive on our planet. This fish with eight hollow spine fins covered by tough scales acting like a coat of armor can grow up the six feet long and existed on earth 410 million years ago! The Tuatara is the last reptile that lived on earth as a contemporary of the dinosaurs 225 million years ago. They still exist on remote islands in the Pacific Ocean and some wildlife sanctuaries. The Tarsiers are primates with huge eyes that leap from tree to tree. They are carnivores who are probably the ancestors of two legged primates. The slow loris is a primitive monkey with a very large round head and eyes. Their arms and legs are of equal size. This southeastern Asia native also bites with a poisonous venom lethal to many humans.

Many animals have evolved with adaptations needed for their environment. There is an African Penguin native to the warm coast of Africa. These animals burrow in the ground to keep cool. Glands above the eyes high on their heads help them cool their bodies. The North Island Brown Kiwi is a bird that does not fly because its wings are tiny. The animal is the size of a chicken. Like a dog the kiwi bird uses its nose to find food. These animals live in underground burrows. The male sits on eggs in the nest, while the female goes out to hunt for food. Their eggs are the largest known bird eggs. New Zealand has adopted this bird as their national symbol. Giant Tortoises living in the Galapagos Islands can weigh up to 600 pounds so their bodies have been adapted to move slowly and burn few calories. In fact, they can go as long as one year without eating or drinking anything!

There are many animals with adaptations that make them look strange. The Glass Frog  lives in Venezuela and central America. Its body is translucent so that it is totally invisible to predators. The Shoebill is a bird that lives in the swamps of east Africa. It is related to the stork, but its bill looks like a giant shoe. This cartoon like character spends most of its time standing silently along the water, but can fly at low altitude. When it does fly, it usually flies in a group that chatters. Archaeologists have found drawings of this bird in ancient Egyptian art. The Okapi is a forest giraffe that has black and white legs like a zebra. Its tongue is so long that it can wash its ears! One animal may someday help us find a cure for cancer. The Naked Mole Rat lives in tunnels on the desert coast of East Africa. This animal uses little oxygen and has no hair. It does not feel pain and appears to be resistant to cancer. Its life span is longer than any other mammal of comparable size. Another oddity is that these animals are eusocial like bees. One female is designated queen; all the other rats will work to sustain the colony.

More than thirty animals are discussed in this book. The work may serve as a springboard for analysis, discussion, comparison and evaluation of topics in  life science, geography, evolution and environment. I recommend it as a valuable learning reference tool for adults and children of all ages.

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