CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 27. . . .March 19, 2010
The Amulet of Amon-Ra.
Austin, TX: Children's Brains are Yummy Books (www.cbaybooks.com), 2009.
289 pp., pbk., $9.95.
Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.
Review by Inderjit Deogun.
Jennifer took off, her bare feet slapping the stone floor. The building's open doorway shone like a beacon in the distance, urging her on. She sprinted towards it, winding her way back through the huge jars, and leaped over the sill, landing in the street with a jarring thud.
Lungs burning, she ran all the way to the end. The main road, where she could lose herself in the crow, seemed so far away. She reached it and plunged into the mass of people. Risking a quick look behind her, she saw Ka-Aper's bald head just exiting the side street. As the crowd swept her along, he started to look her way. She ducked lower to evade his gaze.
She kept to the middle of the road as people went by her on both sides, and slowed down, a hand clamped over the stitch in her side. She resisted looking over her shoulder. As an extra precaution, in case Ka-Aper was following her, she took a few side trips, going up one unfamiliar street and down another. Once, she thought she heard someone calling her name, but she walked on, eager to get as far from Ka-Aper as possible.
When she thought she had gone far enough, she leaned against a wall, pressing her hand against her side. Her other hand, she was surprised to see, was still curled tight around the item she had picked up on the stairs. She opened it slowly.
Jennifer is not your typical teenage girl - she couldn't care less about boys or makeup. It's ancient Egypt that interests her the most. This is precisely why she visits the local museum with her Grandma Jo a week before her scheduled class trip. While at the museum, Jennifer eyes the tomb painting of a young girl that looks exactly like her. She tries to push this coincidence from her mind until she receives an unexpected gift of an old scarab amulet.
After inhaling the strange dust from inside her amulet, Jennifer finds herself in ancient Egypt. She has been transported through time to the reign of Hatshepsut, the female pharaoh. To make matters worse, Jennifer is in the body of the young girl from the tomb painting, known as Dje-Nefer. She must now convince Dje-Nefer's family that everything is perfectly normal, but when Jennifer overhears Ka-Aper's plot to kill Hatshepsut she realizes that this couldn't be further from the truth.
While trying to blend into her new life, Jennifer must find a way to warn Hatshepsut of the deadly plot, but the question is how. The answer comes in the form of an invitation to dine at the palace. Just when Jennifer is about to tell Hatshepsut the truth, she is accused of being possessed by a demon. To prevent being wrongly imprisoned and losing any chance of returning home, Jennifer runs for her life.
From the beginning, it's Jennifer's curiosity and passion for ancient Egypt that drives The Amulet of Amon-Ra. Her detailed descriptions of all that she encounters enrich the text conveying the reality of this time and place. It's with the aid of historical fact that Leslie Carmichael expertly weaves this tapestry of ancient Egypt. The merit of her story is also strengthened by her depiction of the beliefs and customs of the time.
The pacing of the story leaves the reader weary at times, but these blips are dismissed when the suspense forces your attention and holds you hostage. You soon realize that this book has become a page-turner. Though the explanation for the time travel itself is difficult to follow, The Amulet of Amon-Ra will leave readers mesmerized. In the end, the scarab amulet isn't the only gift Jennifer receives; she also finds the confidence to be herself.
Inderjit Deogun is currently pursuing a career in publishing with a particular interest in children's literature.
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