Ancient Egypt: Tales of Gods and Pharaohs


With compelling comic-style illustrations, a colossus's worth of facts, and dramatic fold-out spreads, Marcia Williams brings Egyptian myths to life.

The stories of the Egyptian pharaohs and their ancient gods are full of mystery and adventure. In this retelling of nine tales of ancient Egypt, Marcia Williams uses her signature comic-strip style to capture the rich mythology and early history of this great civilization. Beginning with powerful Ra rising from the waters of the ...

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With compelling comic-style illustrations, a colossus's worth of facts, and dramatic fold-out spreads, Marcia Williams brings Egyptian myths to life.

The stories of the Egyptian pharaohs and their ancient gods are full of mystery and adventure. In this retelling of nine tales of ancient Egypt, Marcia Williams uses her signature comic-strip style to capture the rich mythology and early history of this great civilization. Beginning with powerful Ra rising from the waters of the Nile to create the gods of the earth, sky, and rain, Ancient Egypt takes readers through the curse of King Tut's tomb and the rise of Cleopatra— with Rami, Ra's beloved cat, highlighting Egypt's many cultural and technological advances along the way. An instantly engaging, accessible introduction to an ancient civilization, this collection of stories is sure to fascinate and inspire young Egyptologists.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Several stories from ancient Egypt are exuberantly retold in this picture book for older readers...Williams infuses her retellings with a great deal of humor, and nearly every page includes an array of subtle jokes that are delightfully extended in her entertaining, often cheeky illustrations, which blend two distinct but compatible styles, those of comic books and Egyptian tomb paintings.
Publishers Weekly
Pairing her signature comic book–inspired aesthetic with classic Egyptian art motifs, Williams offers an irreverent take on nine mythological stories. Simple synopses accompany each panel, while the cartoonlike characters communicate through dialogue balloons. In the tale of Isis and the Cobra, when siblings Isis and Osiris marry, Osiris declares, “Good plan. Keep it in the family!” After Osiris’s younger brother, Seth, steals his crown and becomes pharaoh, Osiris’s son Horus seeks vengeance against Seth, who has transformed himself into a goofy-looking (but powerful and destructive) hippopotamus. In another story, readers can open gatefold flaps to reveal Tutankhamen’s tomb (as long as they’re willing to ignore the advice of a cat who provides humorous running commentary: “Stop! Read the opposite page before opening the flap or be cursed forever!” A sure-footed and mischievous vision of these seminal stories. Ages 6–up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Williams presents nine tales of ancient Egypt, of both actual people and of legendary gods, in her usual mixture of comic strips and larger, more detailed gouache and ink illustrations. Around and along the bottom of the pages are additional informative, frequently humorous supplements. Several large fold-outs also add impressive landscapes and statuary. Bits of text and speech balloons supplement the pictorial narrative. The gods included are Ra, Isis, Seth, and Horus; the historical characters are Pharaoh Zoser, Queen Hatshepsut, Prince Thutmose, Queen Cleopatra, and Tutankhamen. Each is treated with touches of light-hearted humor along with the serious information. Much time and attention is needed to appreciate the wealth of material tucked into this attractive package. A map on ancient Egypt is also included. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—The highpoints of Egyptian mythology-creation, the divinity of Ra, the death of Osiris, and the vengeance of his son Horus-as well as the stories of four great pharaohs-are presented in this lighthearted picture book/graphic novel. Treachery, ambition, and betrayal may be the major themes when telling the stories of deities such as Seth and Isis and rulers like Thutmose and Cleopatra, but this book makes them all seem like fun. Williams utilizes a beautiful, sun-soaked palette of gold, turquoise, lapis, jade, and carnelian lifted right off a sarcophagus; the horizontal, two-dimensional composition seen on ancient papyrus and tomb walls; and a full complement of ancient Egyptian symbols and icons, ornaments and borders. However, these little gods and pharaohs are no stiff figures mired in the ancient past. Expressive postures, smiling faces, and playful interactions among them keep readers scouring the pages for every little joke. Illustration panels floating atop textured paper backgrounds give the book a down-to-earth, craft-project look. Compared to the beautiful but static imagery in books such as Demi's Tutankhamun (Marshall Cavendish, 2009), each figure in this book, from the great Ra to the tiniest mouse, fairly leaps off the page in order to grab readers' attention.—Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD
Kirkus Reviews

For her latest cartoon foray into ancient cultures, Williams concocts a brisk dash through Egyptian myth and history.

Drawing figures in traditional Egyptian style but with a more natural range of expressions and gestures, she constructs flat-planed scenes that range from small sequential strips to full-page images and even larger ones on double gatefolds. Her nine episodes begin with a creation myth, end with Cleopatra's death and in between introduce a select set of major gods and Pharaohs. Large and small, each picture is decked with strings of hieroglyphic-like signs for atmosphere as well as side comments in dialogue balloons to go with the short, legible captions. Though she freely mixes legend and fact without distinguishing one from the other in the main going, a smaller strip running below provides a cat's-eye view of the subject. The patterns of Egyptian daily life ("Cats are Egypt's greatest wonder, followed by the river Nile"), how mummies were made ("Yes, we do cats, too!"), early technological advances and general cultural values receive tongue-in-cheek glosses. The colorful, briefly told stories provide nothing like a systematic overview but are easily enjoyed for themselves, and they may well leave young readers with a hankering to find out more about Isis and Horus, Zoser, Hatshepsut, Tutankhamen and the rest.

A lighthearted recap of some of our oldest tales. (map) (Picture book/folklore. 7-10)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763663155
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 420,703
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: GN730L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.65 (w) x 10.63 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Marcia Williams has written and illustrated many books in her highly successful and entertaining comic strip style. Among her many retellings are CHAUCER'S CANTERBURY TALES, CHARLES DICKENS AND FRIENDS, MORE TALES FROM SHAKESPEARE. Marcia Williams lives in London.

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