|The author in Egypt 20 years ago|
In my experience, kids – and teachers – love ancient Egypt. It's long ago and far away, and yet somehow the personalities shine through the millennia and resonate with us today.
A love poem from a young woman says, "My heart thought of my love of you when half of my hair was braided. I came at a run to find you and neglected my hairdo." (What Life Was like on the Banks of the Nile, Time Life Books, page 36.) These windows into the past show us that the human soul has been much the same for 5000 years.
There aren't as many novel set in ancient Egypt as I would like to see, but here's a short list of some that should be appropriate for middle grade students.
Middle Grade Historical Fiction Set in Ancient
The Eyes of Pharaoh, by Chris Eboch: “Set in Egypt in 1177 BC, brings an ancient world to life.
When Reya hints that Egypt is in danger from foreign nomads, Seshta and Horus don’t take him seriously. How could anyone challenge Egypt? Then Reya disappears. To save their friend, Seshta and Horus spy on merchants, soldiers, and royalty, and start to suspect even The Eyes of Pharaoh, the powerful head of the secret police. Will Seshta and Horus escape the traps set for them, rescue Reya, and stop the plot against Egypt in time?”
“I found the book fascinating for many reasons. It is informative and educational and it is not only about Egypt but also about friendship and loyalty. The many dimensions in the plot make it an engaging read. The characters are relatable and the author's writing gives a good pace to the story. The twists and turns in the plot make it a compelling read. The setting of the story shows the extensive research the author must have done to make it enjoyable to readers. The mystery that runs through the plot is intriguing and the images are vivid. The author does an excellent job by bringing ancient Egypt to life through this story and giving readers a lot of information about the beliefs that existed in society during that period, as well as the culture and history.” Readers’ Favorite review
Pharaoh’s Daughter: A Novel of Ancient Egypt, by Julius Lester: “Born into slavery, adopted as an infant by a princess, and raised in the palace of mighty Pharaoh, Moses struggles to define himself. And so do the three women who love him: his own embittered mother, forced to give him up by Pharaoh's decree; the Egyptian princess who defies her father and raises Moses as her own child; and his headstrong sister Almah, who discovers a greater kinship with the Egyptian deities than with her own God of the Hebrews. Told by Moses and his sister Almah from alternating points of view, this stunning novel by Newbery Honor-author Julius Lester probes questions of identity, faith, and destiny.”
The Golden Goblet, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw - Ancient Egypt: “A Newbery Honor Book: Ranofer wants only one thing in the world: to be a master goldsmith like his beloved father was. But how can he when he is all but imprisoned by his evil half brother, Gebu? Ranofer knows the only way he can escape Gebu's abuse is by changing his destiny. But can a poor boy with no skills survive on the cutthroat streets of ancient Thebes? Then Ranofer finds a priceless golden goblet in Gebu's room and he knows his luck−and his destiny−are about to change.”
A Place in the Sun, by Jill Rubalcaba: “When Senmut, a young stone sculptor, is exiled for life to the gold mines of Nubia, he must count on all his skills in order to survive. A novel of bristling intrigue, set against the dramatic historical backdrop of 13th century B.C. Egypt.”
Mara, Daughter of the Nile, by Eloise McGraw (Set in the time of Queen Hatshepsut): “Mara is a proud and beautiful slave girl who yearns for freedom. In order to gain it, she finds herself playing the dangerous role of double spy for two arch enemies – each of whom supports a contender for the throne of Egypt.” (This one is slow, in my opintion.)
Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the
Nile, , 57 B.C.
(The Royal Diaries), by
Kristiana Gregory: “Established Dear America author Kristiana Gregory kicks off
the Royal Diaries with the captivating story of young Cleopatra's tumultuous
life. Daughter of King Ptolemy Autletes, Pharaoh of Egypt, Cleopatra lives a
life filled with opulence and mystery.” Egypt
The Wadjet Eye, by Jill Rubalcaba: “A historical novel set in 45 B.C. Damon's medical training under the Pharaoh's own physician didn't prepare him for his mother's last illness—or for the adventure that follows. Damon must travel from Alexandria all the way to Spain, where his father is fighting in Caesar's army, to deliver the news of his mother's death to the father he hardly knows. Soon the quiet, studious Damon and his best friend, the soldierly Artemas, are caught up in danger and intrigue--from shipwreck and shark attack to the political maneuverings of Cleopatra, Cicero, and Caesar. Fast-paced and suspenseful, this compelling historical novel combines page-turning excitement with a well-researched portrait of the ancient world.”
Several of these are older books, and some feel a bit outdated in their style now, but they are still worth a read.
Do you know of any wonderful novels for young people set in ancient Egypt to add to the list?
Chris Eboch writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages, with several novels for ages nine and up. The Genie’s Gift draws on the mythology of 1001 Arabian Nights to take readers on a fantasy adventure. In The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan girl in ninth-century Guatemala rebels against the High Priest who sacrifices anyone challenging his power. Learn more at www.chriseboch.com or her Amazon page, or check out her writing tips at her Write Like a Pro! blog.