Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Best Book of Mummies

The Best Book of Mummies

Philip Steele
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
Kingfisher, 2005   ISBN: 075345873X

Ever since archaeology began, there has been a fascination with finding the tombs of Pharaohs and the mummies they contain. Why did the ancient Egyptians mummify the remains of their kings? Quite simply it was because they believed that the Pharaohs were “living gods” and that when they died their intact body had to be prepared for another life in the “Next World.” Getting to the Next World was not an easy task, and the dead person needed to take many things with him or her to help make the journey easier. This was why so many wonderful items were enclosed in the tombs of the dead; there was food, chariots, furniture, figures of servants that would be brought to life, weapons, jewels, clothes, and make-up. Indeed everything that the person would need to have a comfortable life after death.

Once a dead person was mummified - and it was only the rich who could afford this process - their body was placed in a series of sarcophagi, and then taken to a tomb where it would lie, it was hoped, in peace. There were many kinds of tombs including pyramids, mastabas, and underground tombs hewn in the rock. Despite the efforts of the creators of these tombs, most of the tombs were found, broken into, and robbed. One of the few royal tombs that was left almost intact was that of the young king Tutankhamen. The discovery of this tomb in the 1920’s caused a great stir, and encouraged archaeologists to hope that more such tombs still lay out under the rock and sand, just waiting to be discovered.

With a simple text, wonderfully engaging annotated illustrations and diagrams, and fascinating details about the funerary rites of the ancient Egyptians, this little book would make a wonderful gift for a young person interested in ancient Egypt.