Monday, March 7, 2011

1968 Honor- The Egypt Game



My children told me how much they liked a book called The Egypt Game, a Newbery Honor book, so I was pretty pleased when, just a few days later I found a copy for sale at Goodwill. The author, Zilpha Keatley Snyder has written several other books I have read, such as The Witches of Worm and The Headless Cupid.

Right away I recognized a commonality with Snyder’s other books—an annoying, somewhat unlikeable, but exciting young female protagonist. In The Egypt Game, young April Hall has been sent to her Grandmother’s to stay while her Hollywood mother pursues her career. April is not easy to like; she’s haughty and seems insensitive to the feelings of others while being touchy herself. But she is vulnerable inside and has to handle the feeling of rejection from her mother that she can no longer deny.

April does make some friends, Melanie, Marshall and Elizabeth, and draws them into a game she creates, the Egypt game. The back yard of an old man’s antique store becomes their secret land of Egypt, and they decorate it with the trappings, customs and religions of ancient Egypt. Elaborate rituals and play-acting dominate their imaginative game. But a neighborhood menace threatens to take away their Egypt game, which has come to mean so much to them.

While I did enjoy reading the book, because I could not identify with April, I was less than enthusiastic about it. She is the ringleader type, who tends to drag innocent friends and bystanders into trouble. She has no qualms about praying and bowing to the ancient gods, all part of her reality within the role-playing. I wonder how I would have felt about the book if I had read it when I was a kid. It did make me think about some of the imaginative games I used to play with my sisters and friends.

I appreciated the subtle and realistic way Snyder deals with changes April’s character, how she becomes a better friend and begins to appreciate her grandmother, but always remaining April.

I bought this book used for 25 cents at a Goodwill.

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