Prankster gets his comeuppance and much more than he bargained for when his boring Egyptian lessons become all too real.
Despite a great teacher and an awesome topic, Seth Davis has little interest in learning about the Ancient Egyptians, it’s all long names and words he cannot pronounce let alone spell. What he’d really like to know is how mummies were made. After a misjudged mummy prank, and whilst awaiting punishment in the classroom, Seth picks up an ancient artefact and is whisked back thousands of years to the land of pyramids, Pharaohs, palaces and slaves.
Seth, god of mischief, soon finds himself lending a helping hand to the various tradespeople and having fun with the children on the banks of the River Nile. A visit from the Pharaoh has all of the villagers excited but Seth risks their wrath when he frees a friendly pet hyena that is going to become lunch. Will a hungry Pharaoh punish Seth? Will he find a way to return home or is the boy from the present destined to stay in the past forever…
History is about more than just the famous people and Karen McCombie gives the ordinary folk some much-needed attention in a fun, action-packed and fact-filled romp through Ancient Egypt. Throughly researched and with extensive back matter, The Boy Who Stole the Pharaoh’s Lunch brings alive a fascinating and exciting era, immersing readers in a rich historical period that allows them to experience what everyday life was like for ordinary children and their families living on the banks of the Nile. Exciting, imaginative and accessible storytelling, complimented by Anneli Bray’s humour-filled illustrations that bring alive Seth’s adventures and misadventures, will have readers turning over the pages faster than Seth can swim away from a crocodile.
Whilst lots of narratives on Ancient Egypt focus on the riches and the lives of the rulers, particularly the famous boy King - Tutankhamun, this is a great counterfoil that will feel more relatable to children who will immediately begin making comparisons between the past and the present. Learning about the strange tools for brushing teeth, the games kids played, unusual breakfast foods and toilets comparable to a cat’s litter box are just as important as knowing about discovered burial tombs, lavish lifestyles, mummies and treasures beyond the wildest dreams. And who doesn’t love learning a few gross facts that will be met with ‘eeeewww’ and ‘gross’.
A nice subplot to the time-travel is a gentle exploration of Seth’s struggles at school and the reason behind some of his behaviours. Children will often mask their personal challenges behind behaviours and Seth opts for the class-clown to hide his dyslexia. Luckily, a supportive teacher is on hand to listen, to offer reassurances and to work with Seth to make things better for him. This is the first dyslexic character to feature in a Barrington Stoke title and it is very fitting for the publisher whose accessible books are printed in dyslexia-friendly font and on tinted paper to ensure their reads can be accessed by every child; I’m sure Seth would approve!
Interesting, incredibly funny and brilliantly written, this is a must have book to support an Ancient Egyptian topic. Perfect for history buffs, mischief-makers and time-travellers!
Recommended for 8+.
With huge thanks to Barrington Stoke for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.