November 17, 2017

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Nile Crossing by Katy Beebe | SLJ Review

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redstarBEEBE, Katy. Nile Crossing. illus. by Sally Wern Comport. 34p. Eerdmans. Oct. 2017. Tr $18. ISBN 9780802854254.

Gr 2-5 –Readers will gain a whole new perspective on the first day of school when they read about a fisherman’s son in ancient Egypt on his first day. Khepri and his father leave their quiet village before dawn to sail down the Nile to the busy city of Thebes, where the boy will learn to be a scribe. “I walk close beside my father. He puts a reassuring hand on my shoulder, and the words we do not say fill the hush of dawn.” Once they arrive and his father hugs him goodbye, Khepri is left alone to face his fears. “As I stand outside the courtyard, I hear the other boys talking and laughing inside. My new pen case is strange in my hand. Already I miss the feel of the net and the weight of a good catch.” The narrative ends before his school day begins, but a few pages of notes offer more information about his first day as well as about school in ancient Egypt in general. After a new friend teaches him to write his name, he says, “Good…Now you just have to learn about seven hundred more signs, how they go together in a thousand different ways, and all the sacred texts. Not a bad start, as the serpent said when he swallowed the toe of the hippopotamus.” Endpapers tell Khepri’s story in hieroglyphs, and the beautifully rendered illustrations, in shades of blue, green, yellow, and orange, were created digitally with pastels and acrylics. Meticulously researched, the pictures effectively capture the setting and characters’ dress as well as the mood on this momentous morning. VERDICT Quiet but beautifully written, this is a great informational read-aloud about starting school, ancient Egypt, and hieroglyphics.–Barbara Auerbach, formerly at New York City Public Schools

This review was published in the School Library Journal November 2017 issue.

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