Muti's Necklace: The Oldest Story in the World

Overview

Thousands of years ago in Egypt, a girl named Muti receives a beautiful necklace from her father. He has carved it himself—from “turquoise as blue as a dragonfly’s wing, and carnelian, as red as the inside of a pomegranate.” Muti wears it every day as she grows from a small child into an independent young woman.

When at the age of thirteen she is sent to work for King Snefru, the mighty Pharaoh of Egypt, Muti finds out just how precious her necklace really is. And in the ...

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Muti's Necklace: The Oldest Story in the World

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Overview

Thousands of years ago in Egypt, a girl named Muti receives a beautiful necklace from her father. He has carved it himself—from “turquoise as blue as a dragonfly’s wing, and carnelian, as red as the inside of a pomegranate.” Muti wears it every day as she grows from a small child into an independent young woman.

When at the age of thirteen she is sent to work for King Snefru, the mighty Pharaoh of Egypt, Muti finds out just how precious her necklace really is. And in the process, she learns the value of standing up for what she treasures most.

With Louise Hawes’s clear, evocative prose and Rebecca Guay’s rich, powerful illustrations, Muti’s tale from thousands of years ago burns brightly alive today.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Adapting and expanding an ancient Egyptian story, Hawes has created an original fairy tale about familial love and its power to thwart even the majesty of Pharaoh."—SLJ School Library Journal
Children's Literature
This book tells the story of a brave young girl who defied the king of Egypt. It is based on one of three "Tales of Wonder" from a papyrus that is thousands of years old. Young Muti's father has shown his love by carving her a beautiful jeweled necklace. She grows up happily working alongside her family, until, when she is thirteen-years-old, she goes to serve King Snefru, the Pharaoh of Egypt. Watching her doing laundry one day, Snefru orders his captain to train her and other girls to row for him. One day, Muti's beloved necklace breaks and falls into the water. She steadfastly refuses to row again until it is returned. The Royal Magician finally drains the lake so she can retrieve it. Impressed by Muti, Snefru asks her to be his queen. Instead, Muti prefers to go home to her loving family. This romantic tale is visualized in sensuous watercolor and acrylic gouache. Full and double-page scenes are painted full of details of costumes, architecture, the royal barge, and more. Muti is a stunning, sultry, dark-haired beauty. The Pharaoh is conventionally handsome, lounging bare-chested on his lion throne. Guay's sequence of visuals seems ready for filming with a melodramatic cast of characters and lush settings. An author's note details the background of the tale. 2006, Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 5 to 9.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Adapting and expanding an ancient Egyptian story, Hawes has created an original fairy tale about familial love and its power to thwart even the majesty of Pharaoh. Muti cherishes the necklace her father made for her when she was born, associating it with many happy memories. After turning 13, she leaves her beloved family to work as a servant in King Snefru's palace. Pharaoh, impressed by her beauty and grace, makes her the leader of a cohort of female rowers for his pleasure boat. When her necklace breaks and falls into the lake, she refuses to row or to accept a replacement. It is so important to her that she stands up to Pharaoh, who is now even more impressed by her determination. Where the story contrasts sharply with traditional fairy tales is in the climax: when Snefru asks Muti to become his queen, she declines, preferring to be reunited with her family. The writing style favors the more fleshed-out manner of a short story than the leanness of a folktale. Guay's lush watercolor-and-gouache paintings incorporate elements of Egyptian art and culture, including jewelry motifs, decorative geometric patterns in the scenery, and headdresses and hairstyles. The characters' faces and gestures are expressive and dramatic, and the surrounding landscape teems with life.-Coop Renner, Hillside Elementary, El Paso, TX HERBAUTS, Anne. Prince Silencio. tr. from French by Zoe Bedrick. unpaged. Enchanted Lion. 2006. Tr $14.95. ISBN 1-59270-055-1. LC number unavailable. Gr 1-3-There once was a king who could not tolerate noise. The commotion at his son's birth was so great that he called for "Silencio!" which became the prince's name. The boy grows up, and the king charges him with enforcing the Law of Silence. Silencio's presence among his subjects causes pauses and great gaps in conversations. When the king finally dies, the kingdom explodes in dancing and boisterous chatter. Silencio tries to join the fun, but the people reject him until they realize the importance of the silence "-between the laughter and the songs. Between the words." Unique illustrations fill the pages with a cacophony of color, pattern, and texture. The king, represented by a large face in the shape of a castle, stands tall above the buildings in his realm. Silencio is dressed in white in contrast to the brightly colored crowd. Some pictures also contain words running together and flowing from the chattering crowd. The quirky and symbolic details of the illustrations will be best appreciated by individual readers. However, the size and color of the artwork and the simple text make this a good book to share with groups.-Carolyn Janssen, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Inspired by an ancient tale (probably "The Story of the Green Jewel," although the author does not name it), and subtitled "The Oldest Story in the World" (which other sources identify as Gilgamesh), this is the story of Muti, "daughter of Egypt," who from birth has worn the precious turquoise-and-carnelian necklace crafted by her loving father. When, at age 13, this shapely, Cleopatra-kohled beauty goes "to work for King Snefru, mighty Pharaoh of all Egypt," the chiseled young ruler, impressed by her grace and strength (laundering whilst dressed and bejeweled to the nines), insists that she head an all-girl rowing crew. This leads to the loss of her necklace, her death-defying refusal to continue to power the Pharaoh's boat and the Royal magician's Moses-like parting of the waters of the lake to allow Muti to retrieve her treasure. Evocative pretend-papyrus papers and glowing, detailed watercolor-and-gouache pictures of the comely Pharaoh, his serving girls in richly adorned, diaphanous dresses and Egyptian icons galore give a fairy-tale feel to this immoderately romantic telling. (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618535835
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/26/2006
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 8 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca Guay

Louise Hawes is the author of many novels for young adults and is also a faculty member of the Spalding University MFA in Writing program. She has always loved fairy tales and says that Black Pearls was written for “everyone who dances without looking at the clock.” She lives in North Carolina.

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