Monday, May 31, 2010

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

This was a childhood favorite of mine. There were a lot of things for me to identify with in this book.  I liked "imagining games better than anything," as Melanie says in the book, and I remember being very interested in ancient Egypt, so I loved their Egypt game.  The main characters are Melanie, her precocious, tag-along younger brother Marshall, and her new friend April. I identified with Melanie because I also have a younger brother who I was very close to growing up, and with April because I moved all the time as a kid, so I had a lot of sympathy for her as the new kid going through a rough transition.

In the story Melanie, April, and Marshall play an elaborate, imaginative game where they are ancient Egyptians in the unused backyard and shed of a curio shop in their neighborhood. As the story progresses, they bring more children into the game. Then something happens that halts their game. It's a pretty suspenseful mystery, as a matter of fact, and I had completely forgotten about that part. Another thing I had forgotten about is that it's beautifully illustrated by Alton Raible. Looking at the pictures again, I'm pretty sure I really liked them as a kid, too, because they're enchanting. They're clearly contemporaneous with the story which was originally published in 1967,  unlike the cover of my 1986 Scholastic copy. Other things worth noting are that it has a quite racially diverse cast of characters, and is set in a university town. I'm not sure if I realized as a kid that the book wasn't written at that time, but now I can see it's pretty emblematic of it's time. 

Upon re-reading I was surprised to realize I'm not sure if I've read any other works by Snyder. This is odd since as I kid if I found a book I liked, I'd usually read everything else I could find by that author. There's now a sequel to The Egypt Game that I'm curious to check out as well. Any recommendations for Snyder books I should read immediately?


  1. The Velvet Room by Z.K.S. was my favourite book in grade 7 and is still really close to my heart, even though I have not read it in some years. I read it through many times that year... a girl, a tower room with velvet curtians, books, adventure... a great read!

  2. Thanks, Elizabeth! I'll have to try that one.

  3. I don't think I read any of hers.


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