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In Review

By Elizabeth Wroten

Kidlit Review: Hatshepsut of Egypt by Shirin Yim Bridges

On 18, Nov 2014 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten

HatshepsutHatshepsut of Egypt (The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses) written by Shirin Yim Bridges, illustrated by Albert Nguyen

From GoodReads: When explorers first chipped a hole through a wall and shined a light into Tutankhamun’s tomb, everything it touched glinted with gold and gleamed with silver. The boy-king so surrounded by this treasure would become one of the most famous names in history. But it was a less-famous princess who had accumulated a lot of the wealth that was buried in that tomb. Her name was Hatshepsut. How did she make Egypt so rich? And how did she come to be buried, like Tutankhamun, in the Valley of the Kings? This book brings to life the story of a real and remarkable princess who had the nerve to declare herself Pharaoh.

First off I hate that the description from the publisher has to compare Hatshepsut to King Tut. This is supposed to be about princesses. Also Hatshepsut is pretty famous being the only female pharaoh and all. Egypt is filled with really, really amazing artifacts and history of which Tut is a tiny (albeit famous) sliver. Let’s stop making such a BFD out of him and look at some people who actually ruled and did stuff.

In terms of content the book was fine. It didn’t get into a lot of detail so I think it would be better for kids with a passing interest in Egypt (and who may simply be interested in history), kids who want to read the whole Real Princess series and aren’t looking for something in-depth about Hatshepsut, or kids who are just getting interested in Ancient Egyptian history. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Just don’t make this the focus of your Ancient Egyptian history collection or the sole book in it.

I wish there had been more about daily life and life of Egyptian royalty, maybe even religion, but it was light on much beyond a semi-fictionalized story of Hatshepsut’s life. I think there was opportunity for a little information about Egyptology and the archaeology in the region, especially as pertains to how we know all this stuff about Hatshepsut. For example, the discovery of her mummy (kind of a big deal!) was dealt with in a sentence or two with no explanation why it took so long, what the tomb she was found in was all about and why she wasn’t found in her own tomb.

What I wasn’t so happy with was the overall look of the book. To me, it screams educational publication. I don’t see any kid, besides the die-hard Egypt fan, picking this up on their own and since the content is fairly light I would say they’ll be disappointed. On the cover, why is she standing with the Sphinx and the pyramids? Those predate Hatshepsut by a thousand years and her temple is incredibly impressive, why not show pictures of that?

Inside the graphics are not especially appealing. They look like a cross between educational fare and a picture book. Many of the photographs are not labeled or are poorly labeled, which is too bad. For the wealth of Egyptian temples and artifacts there could have been both more and better pictures of those things. There was one especially confusing family tree that needed better indications of relationships, better flow, and better explanation of who every one was since there were second and third wives listed and people with the same name. Finally, going back to the cover, did they really use papyrus font for the title? Ugh. Such a cliche and such an ugly font.

I do, however, applaud the author and publisher for putting together a series of real princesses who are not those vapid Disney ones that need men to save them.

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