Sunday, January 22, 2006

How the Amazon Queen Fought the Prince of Egypt

Bower, Tamara. 2005. HOW THE AMAZON QUEEN FOUGHT THE PRINCE OF EGYPT. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 0689844344 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-8]

When Queen Serpot learns that an Eqyptian army is nearby and planning to fight her Amazons, she sends her sister, disguised as a man, to infiltrate their camp and report back. With this inside information, she is able to command her troops successfully against Prince Pedikhons, the Egyptian general. He demands that she fight him one-on-one: she agrees, taunting “You will be to me as an insect in the mouth of a bird. I will smash your face into your neck. I will break your legs into your heels!” They fight to a draw, and he finds that he has fallen in love with this woman who is literally his equal in every way.

This fascinating recreation of a partial Egyptian text is an amazingly transparent and generous introduction to historical and literary reconstruction. The author incorporates the hieroglyphs, phonetic transcriptions and literal translations, as well as the Anglicized translation (in bold type) within the story. The illustrations are in the style of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Bower includes a note about the story, a note on hieroglyphs, maps, a page by page explanation of symbols, and a selection for future reading.

Readers can develop their own “secret codes” based on the full hieroglyphic transcriptions in the text, either graphic or phonetic.

Given partial, literal translations of other mythic stories (e.g. Homer’s ODYSSEY), older readers may be intrigued to try to predict the full story.

Strong, positive female characters are difficult to find in stories from long ago: readers may want to discuss the possible reasons for this, and how things have changed in modern history and literature.

Other books about hieroglyphs:
Collier, Mark and Bill Manley. HOW TO READ EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPHS. ISBN 0520239490
Zauzich, Karl-Theodor. HIEROGLYPHS WITHOUT MYSTERY. ISBN 0292798040

Other books about Amazons:
Davis-Kimball, Jeannine. WARRIOR WOMEN. ISBN 0446679836
Salmonson, Jessica Amanda. THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMAZONS. ISBN 0385423667

By Julie Brinker

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