Posts tagged ‘society’

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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AZTECS AT A GLANCE

Legends of History:Fun Learning Facts about the Aztecs

Written by Matt Curtis

AztecHistory,pic

This was my first time reading a book in this series. Other books in this series discuss civilizations such as the Vikings, Egyptians, and Celts. Quite a bit of knowledge packed into thirty-four pages. Curtis uses a conversational approach in discussing what peoples made up the Aztecs, where they originated, who were their leaders, and how they got elected. He includes descriptions of the cities they lived in, the pyramids within them, and their controversial religious views which involved human sacrifice. One of the sections that I found most interesting was Curtis’ explanation of the social stratification system and the erratic system of justice they followed.

Curtis gets down to everyday life when he talks about children, the games they played, their pictograph language, and the type of ornate artwork and clothing worn and displayed, especially among the noble classes. Of course the empire came to a swift end once the Spaniards landed and the welcoming Aztecs realized that Cortes and the Spaniards intended to deplete their economy and rule their lands with an iron fist. Two years later in 1521, the Aztec Empire had been conquered.

These books are targeted for ages five through fifteen. While the text is clearly written, I feel it most appropriate for readers in the eight to twelve age range. The photos included are small but relevant. Parents, teachers, students and librarians will appreciate having this book on their shelves for reference and a good starting point for further exploration of the topic. I look forward to checking out others in the series.

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TOWER OF FEAR

The Ivory Tower

Written by Kirstin Pulioff

The Ivory Tower,pic

This is a well written short story set in a dystopian world where fear and repression are the norms of everyday living. The colorful descriptions and lively verbs guide the reader on an adventure in which she will be eager to proceed on course with the heroine, Simone, and at the same time, be terrified of the outcome.

As the story opens, the reader meets two young friends named Simone and Christine, who are on very different social levels in the camp and bear totally opposite personalities. Simone is number 277 because she is an orphan. Sometimes she does not even receive food rations. Christine is number 35; she and her family are considered productive citizens. The army is present to protect the citizens by keeping them in a restricted area which is free from contaminants of a recent disaster. Young children attend school, but begin laboring in the factory as soon as they are old enough. Everyone is prohibited from going near an old rusted tower that lies at the end of the forest.

Simone and Christine are enjoying their last days of freedom before factory assignments. They are playing hide and seek when Simone gets near the fence and spies the tower. Christine urges her to retreat because she gets in trouble and is beaten by her parents when they find out she has been near the edge of the forest. They warn her of the contaminants and punishment for risking disease by going there. A few days later, Simone urges Christine to play hide and seek one more time. Reluctantly, she agrees. Of course the fearless and curious Simone takes off straight to the tower. While Christine waits outside, Simone gains entrance. She finds duplicate pictures of those in the camp and monitors that are spying on its citizens. Soon she hears footsteps and the approach of one of the soldiers. Desperately, she tries to make her escape. He informs her that they are there to “protect all citizens” whether they realize that or not.

Before the close of the story, Christine and her friend are reunited in the hospital, but Simone is wounded and branded. Will she become another dutiful citizen or do further adventures await this young citizen who does not appear willing and able to conform to camp life? Can their friendship survive?

Children ages eight and up, especially those who love dystopian adventures, will surely enjoy this fast paced and well written short story. This reader is already looking forward to a sequel.

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