Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Having laid to rest the enactments of ancient rituals described so unforgettably in the 1967 classic The Egypt Game, Snyder's charismatic crew of five sharp middle-schoolers (and one precocious 4-year-old) trade in their robes and headdresses for colorful jewels and decide to become Gypsies. But before they have a chance to convert their favorite meeting place, the shack behind the A-Z antique store, into a Gypsy camp, the most distracted member of the gang, Toby, who professes to be "one-quarter genuine Gypsy," suddenly disappears. Laced with mystery, this sequel has much of the allure of its predecessor. Again, the darkness of the adult world overshadows the children's play: Toby's snobbish grandparents want to take him away from his unconventional father; and Toby, thinking he needs to protect his father, evades his grandparents in a dingy section of town. The plotting is not quite as tight, with the author taking a circuitous route around the mystery to allow for the discussion of social issues like homelessness; and Toby, a central figure here, is not developed quite as compellingly as April in The Egypt Game. But these are differences of small degrees, and the work continues to offer Snyder's well-nigh irresistible combination of suspense, wit and avowal of the imagination. The book's gratifying denouement leads the way for a third installment for readers to eagerly await. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
In this companion to the Newbery Honor Book The Egypt Game, April and Melanie begin an exciting new game gradually bringing each of their friends into it. At first, the game is fun, but the kids do have their problems getting along. From their research into gypsies, the group ends up with real Gypsy jewelry, a life-like caravan painted on cardboard (courtesy of Toby's dad, the weird artist, of Gypsy heritage), and a bear of sorts. As the game continues, Toby disappears onto the city streets, leading a gypsy-like existence, hiding from his previously absent, but wealthy and powerful grandparents. The kids quickly learn that what may have been seen as an exciting, nomadic life is in reality a hard and difficult life. The characters, plot and setting are realistic and kids should find this mystery a page-turner.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Limited character development, a vague setting, and frequent references to events in Snyder's The Egypt Game (Atheneum, 1972) make this title most accessible to fans of the earlier book. Here, the friends are researching Gypsies for a new game when one of them, Toby Alvillar, finds his life complicated by family problems. Caught in a custody dispute between his father and his grandparents, the boy leaves home. Although Snyder has skillfully updated some aspects of her original story (e.g., making racial differences known through description rather than labeling), her characters seem oddly sheltered. Toby's decision to run away, for example, seems a naive overreaction, given the current realities of urban life and the capture of a child murderer in the previous book. Equally disconcerting is the willingness of the other children to conceal Toby's whereabouts. Despite these occasionally unbelievable plot twists, Snyder succeeds in making readers care about Toby's situation. The game itself, however, does not go well, for the children's discovery of the age-old persecution of Gypsies sours their enthusiasm. Snyder injects a contemporary (and hopeful) note by having her characters translate their discomfort into a resolve to help some present-day "gypsies": the homeless people whom Toby encountered as a runaway. With all the action, information, and emotion packed into the novel, it is little wonder that Snyder relies upon her readers to be already familiar with characters and setting, and it is for them that this companion book will have the most appeal.-Lisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
A sequel to the The Egypt Game (1967) again features April and Melanie, who have a club with four other children of different ages. Despite the 30 years since the publication of the first book, there is no time gap in the story: The six have decided to learn all about gypsies, meeting in their fenced-in hideaway and adopting a dog along the way. When Toby disappears, tough-talking adults press the children for information, and an atmosphere of unease and anxiety permeates the latter half of the story. A child custody issue turns out to be the impetus for Toby's running away, accompanied by far-fetched threats of blackmail by Toby's wealthy grandparents. The book is more concentrated on plot than on characterization, with cliffhanger chapter endings and suspense; the girls (and the book jacket) are more modern and the vocabulary less demanding than in the first book. Consigning it to sequel status is April's recollection, unexplained, of "what had almost happened" to her in The Egypt Game (she was almost killed by a "criminally insane murderer of children," to quote the Kirkus review).
Put down one book and pick up the other, and this new story works. Otherwise, the dubiousness of kids of varying ages playing together and dearth of helpful background relegate this to a just- average mystery.
Read an Excerpt
"Not very much I guess. Why?"
That was the first thing Melanie said when April asked her if she
knew anything about Gypsies. April didn't answer. A minute or so later
Melanie waved her hand in front of April's eyes and said, "Hey, anybody
home? Come back to earth." Still no answer. April just went on staring
into space. . . .
So when it took a long time for April to say why she asked the Gypsy
question, it didn't surprise Melanie all that much. She knew that
when April's blue eyes got that spacey look it usually meant that
she was on to something new and exciting, and if you waited long enough,
you were sure to hear all about it. So Melanie waited. While she waited,
she had time to sit up, scratch the mosquito bite on her ankle, make
a face at herself in the mirror on April's dressing table, and flop
back down again.
Finally April sighed and said, "Oh, I don't know. It's just what you
said about it not being the same. Going back and doing the same things
over and over. You know, all that Egyptian stuff. And just the other
day I was reading this magazine that had all this great stuff about
Gypsies. I was just thinking how maybe we could. . ." She sat up,
shoved back a straggle of blond hair, grinned at Melanie, and went
on, "I was thinking that maybe we could try being Gypsies for a change."