cover image THE 5,000-YEAR-OLD PUZZLE: Solving a Mystery of Ancient Egypt

THE 5,000-YEAR-OLD PUZZLE: Solving a Mystery of Ancient Egypt

Claudia Logan, , illus. by Melissa Sweet. . FSG/Kroupa, $17 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-374-32335-6

Logan (Scruffy's Museum Adventure) uses a fictional boy hooked on ancient Egypt to guide readers through a real archeological dig in this gripping and entertaining picture book mystery. Young Will Hunt cannot wait to travel with his parents to Giza in 1924 Egypt. There, living "right behind the pyramids," he is eyewitness to the discovery of a secret tomb and an excavation led by Harvard archaeologist Dr. George Reisner. The author organizes the narrative into the boy's diary entries, and postcards home from Will to his friend Sam add immediacy and humor to the events ("I hope something happens—or I'm 'tombed' to eternal boredom"). Readers get a taste of both the painstaking day-to-day grunt work of an archeological dig and the thrill of uncovering the tomb's contents. But the real hook of the book is its central mystery: Who lies in the tomb? As the team progresses, they find strange twists: the usual burial practices have not been followed. Sweet (Ten Little Lambs, reviewed above) toggles between a visual narrative, in which she develops the relationships among the various members of the dig, and a lively presentation of information, with abundant sidebars; the author here explains everything from mummification to the tools of an archeologist's trade to ancient grave robbing. The artist's own paintings, set against a sun-baked backdrop, share space with such archival materials as period photographs, object register notations and more (the book was written in cooperation with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which exhibits reproductions of the expedition's yield). Ancient Egypt aficionados will find much to ponder here. Ages 8-up. (May)