Sunday, May 22, 2005

Secrets of the Sphinx

Giblin, James Cross. 2004. SECRETS OF THE SPHINX. Ill. Bagram Ibatoulline. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0590098470 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-6]

Once again, Giblin produces a quality work of nonfiction that will interest and entertain young readers even as it informs them. He begins by setting the Sphinx up as a mystery, a strategy that will immediately grab the reader’s attention. His first sentences set the stage, “before dawn, the giant creature is almost invisible. It sits in shadow on its rocky, horseshoe-shaped hollow. Then, as the sun slowly rises in the east, the creature’s body is gradually revealed.” He then focuses the remainder of the book on the questions of who built the Sphinx, how, and why. This exploration takes the reader back to the earliest days of Egypt in the Stone Age and progresses through to the present explaining Egyptian culture and beliefs along the way. Giblin also touches on the Rosetta Stone and how that find has made it possible to understand the Ancient Egyptian language. Readers will be interested to discover controversial theories about the Sphinx, including the fact that some people believe that it was built by the lost civilization of Atlantis. Giblin ends on a current note, detailing how the Sphinx’s status today and how it can be protected for future generations.

In addition to Giblin’s text, Ibatoulline adds colored illustrations that compliment the given information. Half and full-page illustrations keep the book from becoming too text heavy and enable the reader to visualize Giblin’s words. Source notes and a bibliography are included at the end of the work and are followed by a helpful index. Well-researched, written and illustrated, this is a fascinating look at an ancient wonder that will undoubtedly be well-received.

After reading the book, continue to talk about Ancient Egypt by utilizing other nonfiction books on the topic.
Using clay, allow children to sculpt their own Sphinx.

Other books about Egypt:
Macaulay, David. PYRAMID. ISBN 0395321212

By Erin Miklauz

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