We’re going strong with the Ancient Egypt theme at the minute! Since the 6yo has a four-day weekend, we’ve been sneaking in a little more reading than usual. This evening he chose The Mystery of the Golden Pyramid by Adela Norean and illustrated by Aaron Cushley. This lift-the-flap adventure book follows Sophie and (Anubis-ish) talking dog Ari as they race to recover the stolen amulets of an ancient pharaoh. Sounds right up our street!
Lift-the-flap books have always been well-loved here, but I now usually end up getting the 6yo ones which are way too baby-ish or far too complicated. So I was v pleasantly surprised to find this one was just right!
The flaps are part of both the narrative and the illustration, making it a really nice interactive feature for younger readers. H really liked the pages with the giant statues, where you turn the flap over to make them speak – such a good example of engaging the reader directly with what is happening on the page!
The story unfolds in a snappy well-paced journey as we accompany Sophie and Ari through various Ancient Egyptian sites – seeing lots of familiar scenery (pyramids, temples, tombs). In terms of level, the 6yo could read this one fairly confidently by himself; the mixture of short clear sentences and dialogue (especially the funny sounds and silly jokes) kept him interested the whole way through! The vocabulary was also pretty accessible for his Y1 reading level, and he was able to work out any unknowns with his phonics — though with the caveat that we perhaps have an unusually specific Ancient Egyptian vocab range (pharaoh might not withstand the Floppy phonics approach!)
The book also uses a bit of mystery-solving to help the reader track down the lost amulets at the same time as Sophie and Ari – there’s sometimes little clues hiding in the illustrations, and this is where the flaps then enable you as the reader to spot and ‘uncover’ the hidden treasures too. Clever! There’s also a great use of tiny doorways to move the characters and the reader between scenes and pages. The 6yo liked this a lot, especially when the tiny triangular door leads into the massive pyramid!
We were both big fans of this one all round. It is such a great example of how to create a fun and engaging historical adventure – we’ve read a lot of Ancient Egyptian books now, and we’ve not encountered anything like this one before. I liked that we see Sophie whisked off on her adventure from modern-day Egypt – a small detail, but a nice way of linking a little more directly between the past and present. The 6yo loved the playfulness of the book as a whole – illustrations and story! – and he also especially liked doing the voice for Ari. I mean, who doesn’t love a talking dog!? Though this has made me realise this is our second Ancient Egyptian talking dog this month, so we have ended up inadvertently finding ourselves a niche – but excellent – theme for April..