Unlike Tut, Tut which I reviewed in my last post, in Abracadabra Tut by Page McBrier, (2014, 242 pages), the time traveling kids do get to meet King Tut. I loved how we get up close and personal with Tut, whom the author portrayed as basically a normal teenager who happened to be the king of Egypt. I appreciated the fact that a lot of action takes place around the Temple of Karnak rather than the more obvious setting choice of the pyramids. I’ve been to Karnak and I thought it was almost as impressive as the pyramids due to all the carvings. It blew my mind to stand in front of a wall and picture a craftsman making the art on it over 4,000 years ago. (panoramic view of Karnak)
When Fletcher Perry mysteriously wins the bid for a genuine mummy’s coffin at a magician’s tag sale, he decides to use it as a prop in his upcoming magic show at school. Then Fletcher and his new assistant, the mega-popular Arielle Torres, find themselves unexpectedly transported via the coffin back to King Tut’s temple, where Fletcher’s modern-day magic tricks attract the attention of the young king’s guardians. Thinking Fletcher must be a powerful sorcerer, the guardians press him into service as the king’s special protector. Fletcher and Arielle, however, know that Tut is destined to die in his teens, and so the race is on for them to decipher the message on a mysterious amulet, locate their missing coffin, and get home before Fletcher’s magic is revealed to be just so much hocus-pocus.
A nice level of suspense was maintained throughout the book. I thought the author brilliant for making Fletcher a magician, as I could truly imagine how these skills could help him in ancient Egypt. There was often built-in tension as I waited to see if his magic tricks would work. Also, it was very funny to have people amazed at Fletcher for seeming to pull a coin out of their ear. There were some great scenes of ancient Egypt such as hippo hunting with King Tut, Fletcher getting his head shaved, and Arielle mummifying a cat.
I am not going to pass this novel along to my kids, though, because unfortunately I did not like the author’s depiction of the girl time-traveler, Arielle. I appreciate that the author was trying to pick a sidekick that would provide some laughs. However, she is mostly shallow and petty throughout the book. Fletcher figures everything out, and she goes along for the ride. She is wearing high heels when she is transported to Egypt, and ends up giving the shoes to the queen, then says,
“…did you notice? High heels haven’t even been invented yet. Everyone wears sandals. I started a fashion trend.”
At the end of the book, I did not like how everything came together too neatly. I also didn’t like how Fletcher rescued someone who might not have wanted to be rescued. However, the ending might be gratifying to a 10-year-old boy.
What I Learned about Egypt
- King Tut liked to go hippo hunting.
- Most people in ancient Egypt shaved their hair or cut it short and wore a wig over it.
- Aye became pharaoh after Tut.
For more Monday middle grade book reviews, check out Shannon Messenger’s blog!