REVIEW: The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

REVIEW: The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley SnyderThe Egypt Game (Game #1) by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Published: Laurel Leaf Books (1967), Paperback, 240pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction

The first time Melanie Ross meets April Hall, she's not sure they'll have anything in common. But she soon discovers that they both love anything to do with ancient Egypt. When they stumble upon a deserted storage yard behind the A-Z Antiques and Curio Shop, Melanie and April decide it's the perfect sport for the Egypt Game.

Before long there are six Egyptians instead of two. After school and on weekends they all meet to wear costumes, hold ceremonies, and work on their secret code.

Everyone thinks it's just a game, until strange things begin happening to the players. Has the Egypt Game gone too far? (from Goodreads)

In my elementary school, the school librarian taught extra classes for kids who were super smart or really bored or both. Each year she’d do a presentation about what she would be teaching, usually through videos or PowerPoint or whatever the hell existed back in the pits of time. In fourth or fifth grade, during an aforementioned info thing, our librarian showed us some early book trailers– from ALA or something, I think. There we were, sitting in the dark, surrounded by mountains of musty outdated books, watching this flickering thing about books I’d never want to read. Until! Suddenly! I heard the words Ancient Egypt, and I was hooked.

It actually took me a while to figure out wtf the book WAS; I’d tuned out most of the trailer until the magic words ANCIENT EGYPT floated into my ears, and that wasn’t a whole heck of a lot to go on. That year, though, the special extra class thingy was about Egypt! So I signed up, and eventually, after making a few sugar cube pyramids and paper mache mummies, we read The Egypt Game.

Really, that was the perfect way to get someone to read The Egypt Game. Lure them in with promises of mystery and magic, and then give them sugar and a quiet place to sit. Preferably in a geodesic dome reading nook from the 1960s!

Somehow, every time I think of this book I can never remember the serial killer side plot. I remember the magic, the pretending, the spookiness and thrilling Halloween scenes. I remember the friendships! The costumes and the ancient rites and the old guy in the antique shop. But NEVER do I remember the serial killer, and it’s always a shock when he shows up in my lovely kidlit book about magic and wonder.

Which I guess is kind of the point? Maybe? Lots of amazing things happen in The Egypt Game, not least of which is April finally dumping some of her illusions about her unsuitable mother. But there’s also scary things running alongside the fantasy, and the dichotomy between the child’s world of Ancient Egypt games and the adult world of abduction and murder makes the games even more precious.

Plus, it gives the story some extra spooky oomph!

Read: August 18-19, 2013

What’s your favorite book from your childhood? I actually have lots of favorites from my elementary school years– Harriet the Spy, The Girl With the Silver Eyes, and Amelia’s Notebook, to name a few.

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