Thursday, July 26, 2007

Reading Together with Blondechick14

Earlier this summer, I signed up for Jennifer's Read Together Challenge. The idea is to read the same book as your child and post about what you both thought or learned from it. (For more details, click on the graphic.)

I was at the library in the children's audio book section when I spotted The Egypt Game, a 1968 Newbery Honor book that I first read and loved when I was in the fifth or sixth grade. I wondered if it was as good as I remembered--and it was!

Its greatest quality, I think, is that it makes pretend play and make-believe seem so creative and compelling, infinitely better than watching a computer or television screen or even than playing sports, as two characters who stumble into the game decide. It is their imaginations which powerfully unite this diverse group of children. The story also has an exciting, unexpected, scary (but not too scary) climax.

The potential downside is that the characters play a game which involves much research and re-creation of the lives of the ancient Egyptians, including the worship of their gods. I remember, as a good Christian girl, feeling a little uneasy about that, especially when my girlfriend and I made up our own Egypt game. We soon nixed that part of the game as it made us uncomfortable, but as a child, I remember loving the book and reading it more than once--but wondering if it was okay.

As an adult, I think it is an aspect of the story to discuss with your child, but I wouldn't avoid the book because of it. (It would be a great addition to a unit study on ancient history!) As an adult, I also realize that the creepy feeling, that I as a child attributed to my uneasiness with the god worship, is actually intentionally woven into the fabric of the book. Little hints foreshadow the danger that appears in the climax, but they are subtle and secretive. The Egypt game itself is a big secret, known only to the six children who play it in an abandoned, fenced-in lot that no grown-ups know about. At least, they think no one is watching....

Blondechick really enjoyed the book as well, which delighted me, as her tastes currently are running alarmingly toward chick-lit. (Uh, no pun intended.) In fact, one of her favorite things about the book, she said, was how the boys wanted to join the girls' game once they discovered it, and how they played fraternally together, with no boyfriend/girlfriend stuff. She liked how the boys brought their own ideas into the game; all the children fed off one another's ideas and creativity. She liked the fact that one of the main characters wore false eyelashes and had an actress for a mother--she prefers stories set in modern times and these details appealed to her. She was a little uncomfortable with the god-worship part, but she wouldn't have chosen to participate in it, if she were there, and she knows it was part of the Egyptian culture, so she took it matter-of-factly. Overall, she loved the excitement of the story and the creativity of their pretending.

She listened to this book on tape while painting her room, and she says that for the rest of her life, whenever she thinks of it, she will always smell paint!

5 comments:

G's Cottage said...

"...and she says that for the rest of her life, whenever she thinks of it, she will always smell paint!"

That is too funny.

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

Great write-up! I love the association with the book and paint.

Has Blondechick read the Penderwicks? I know, I'm like a clanging gong with it, but there's the tiniest bit of romance mixed with regular kid-playing adventure.

At A Hen's Pace said...

Jennifer--

Thanks for reminding me about The Penderwicks! I've been meaning to check our library for it. I'm so glad to hear that it has a little tiny romance in it--that will make it much more appealing to her!

Jeanne

Framed said...

What a great idea your library had. I wish I had done this more when my daughter was young. She's 25 now and I love discussing books with her. I thought "The Egypt Game" was very fun to read.

alisonwonderland said...

i read The Egypt Game as a child, then again with my older daughter about seven years ago, and re-visited it this past year with my younger daughter. i think it's a great book!