One minute, twins Scarlett and Sam are bickering about who's going to read the Four Questions at the Passover seder. The next minute, they've been swept up by Grandma Mina's time-traveling carpet and dumped in the ancient Egyptian desert! And as if being stranded 3,000 years in the past isn't bad enough, they also find their fellow Hebrews suffering in slavery. So they team up with Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to help free the slaves. The future's looking bright! But the story they know so well doesn’t turn out the way they expected...
About the Author
Eric A. Kimmel has been writing for children for over 40 years. His more than 100 titles include such classics as Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock and The Chanukkah Guest. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Ivica Stevanovic has illustrated numerous picture books, as well as book covers and graphic novels. He lives in Veternik, Serbia, with his wife, who is also a children’s illustrator, and their daughter.
Read an Excerpt
Scarlett and Sam
Escape from Egypt
By Eric A. Kimmel, Ivica Stevanovic
Kar-Ben PublishingCopyright © 2015 Eric A. Kimmel
All rights reserved.
Sam and Scarlett were twins. They had the same dark hair and green eyes, the same chins, ears, and noses. They sounded alike. They were even the same height and weight. They were best friends too. But sometimes they liked to argue.
Tonight was one of those times.
It was the first night of Passover. Sam and Scarlett were going to help to lead the family Seder. Who would ask the Four Questions? That part always went to the youngest child at the table. Sam and Scarlett shared the same birthday. This was not going to be easy.
"I want to do it," said Sam.
"Well, so do I!" said Scarlett.
"Why don't you read the questions together like you did last year?" suggested their dad.
"No way! I'm not doing that again," Scarlett said. "Last year was a mess. Sam reads too slowly."
"Well, you read too fast," Sam shot back. "I have an idea. Why don't we divide up the questions? I'll take the first two. You take the last two."
"No! You take the last two. The first two questions are the best. Everybody knows that."
Sam rubbed his forehead. "Here we go again. Come on, Scarlett! Quit trying to take the best parts for yourself."
That's when Grandma Mina got into the act. She stood up from her seat on the other end of the table. Grandma Mina had grown up in Iran. Her flowing gown and colorful scarf matched the colors and patterns of the Persian carpet that hung on the dining room wall behind her.
The carpet was hundreds of years old. It was the only thing Grandma Mina brought with her when her family had to leave their home. They left everything behind—but not that carpet.
"The carpet is woven with magic," Grandma Mina always said. "It has been part of our family throughout the ages. If only that carpet could talk. What stories it could tell!"
Right now, Grandma Mina wasn't looking for stories. She was looking for quiet.
"Sam and Scarlett!" She clapped her hands to get their attention. Sam and Scarlett stopped squabbling.
"Listen to me, both of you. It doesn't matter which of you asks the Four Questions. The answers are what matter. Tonight, at the Seder, we don't just tell the story of Passover. We become part of it. You, I—all the Jewish people all over the world. We all take part in the Passover story. We were there. It happened to each of us."
"Huh?" said Sam. "That doesn't make sense, Grandma. The first Passover happened in Egypt three thousand years ago. Nobody alive was there then."
"You're wrong," Grandma Mina said. "We were all there. The whole Jewish people. In every land, in every age. We all were in Egypt together."
"You mean Sam and me?" said Scarlett. "We weren't even born then!"
Grandma Mina turned to the carpet on the wall. "Look at the carpet. Can you see how it is made of different threads? Thousands of threads, all dyed different colors. Yet they are still part of the same design. So it is with us. We are all part of this story. Like the threads of the carpet. All of us together ... in Egypt ... then ... and now."
That's when something odd began to happen.
Grandma Mina's voice faded. Hot winds began to blow. Scarlett and Sam stared at the carpet. It began to shimmer. Colors swirled before their eyes.
"What's going on?" cried Scarlett. "I feel dizzy."
"Me too!" said Sam.
The twins held tightly to each other as a powerful force pulled them toward the carpet.
"What's happening?" Scarlett shouted. "Sam, don't let go! Stay with me!"
"I'm trying!" Sam yelled back. Loud whooshing sounds drowned out their voices. The room turned black. The whoosh became a roar. The twins felt as if they were flying backwards through the air. They held on to each other as the carpet bucked and bumped through space.
The air around them felt icy cold. Then it began to grow warm. Warmer and warmer until it turned ... HOT!
The carpet came down with a thud. Its colors faded, then vanished. Sam and Scarlett bounced and rolled. Something soft and gritty cushioned their fall.
"Whoa! That was some ride!" said Scarlett, brushing herself off.
"Where are we?" said Sam. "Where's the carpet?"
"Your guess is as good as mine," said Scarlett. She picked up a handful of sand. It was almost too hot to hold. "Sand? How did we get to the beach?"
"I don't think this is a beach," said Sam. "There isn't any water."
"Then what's with all this sand?" said Scarlett.
The blazing sun beat down on them. All at once, they realized the answer to that question.
"We're in the desert!" they said together.CHAPTER 2
IN THE DESERT
It was a desert, all right.
Sam and Scarlett found themselves surrounded by an ocean of sand. No matter where they looked, they saw the same thing. Miles and miles of empty, glaring white sand. "How did we get here?" asked Scarlett.
"Grandma Mina's carpet must have brought us," said Sam. "She always said it was special. I guess she wasn't just talking about its pretty colors."
Sam felt his lips cracking. Scarlett's eyes felt hot and dry. Blinking didn't help. It only made her eyes feel drier and scratchier.
"I wish I had my sunglasses," Scarlett said.
"And sunscreen," Sam added. "Do you see a drugstore?"
"No, but I see something else," said Scarlett. She pointed to three triangles rising above the sand dunes. "Aren't those pyramids?"
Sam squinted into the sun. "They're shaped like pyramids," he said. "But these things are white. Aren't the pyramids supposed to be a sandy color? Like Dad's khaki pants?"
Scarlett didn't answer. She was staring at a crouching animal statue in front of the pyramids. "I don't know about that," said Scarlett. "But if those are pyramids, that must be the Sphinx!"
"But the Sphinx doesn't have all those colors," said Sam. "Unless somebody painted it."
"And gave it a nose. And a beard." Scarlett pointed to the long, skinny beard on the Sphinx's chin. "Not a good idea. It looks kind of goofy."
"This is all kind of goofy," said Sam. "The carpet must've dropped us into the middle of some weird theme park."
"Well, let's start looking for the exit," Scarlett said. "And a refreshment stand. I'm so thirsty that I might turn to sand myself if I don't get something to drink soon."
"I could use a restroom," said Sam. "I really have to go."
"Look around. Maybe you can find a tree."
"It's a desert. There aren't any trees. I don't even see a cactus."
"Well, go behind that sand dune," Scarlett suggested. "I promise not to look."
Sam raced up the sand dune. He disappeared on the other side. Scarlett waited for him to come back.
Scarlett began to worry. She knew she'd promised not to look. But Sam might be in trouble. She began climbing the sand dune. Her feet slipped on the burning hot sand. Scratchy grains got inside her shoes. She felt hot and thirsty and totally miserable.
"Whatever this place is, I hate it," Scarlett mumbled to herself.
After climbing and slipping for several minutes, Scarlett reached the top of the dune. She looked down. Far away on the other side, she saw Sam. But he wasn't alone. He was talking to two rough-looking men. The men wore weird-looking striped hats that looked like grocery bags and covered their necks and shoulders. The only other clothes they had on looked like baggy swimming trunks that came down to their knees. Could they be surfers? If they were surfers, where was the beach? It sure didn't look like there was any surf within a thousand miles of this place.
"Sam!" Scarlett yelled. She waved her arms to catch his attention. Sam looked up. So did the surfers. Sam waved his arms back at Scarlett. He began yelling something. But Scarlett was too far away to make out what he was saying. She moved forward to hear him better. That's when one of the men grabbed Sam's arm. The other one began racing up the dune. "This doesn't look good," Scarlett said to herself. "He's coming after me ..."
What should she do? Stay with Sam? Run for help? Where? She hadn't seen any police cars drive by. Meanwhile, that surfer dude was getting closer. Hot sand didn't seem to slow him down. He was nearly at the top of the dune.
Scarlett got a better look at him now. This dude was definitely not a surfer! Those were not swim trunks. He was wearing some sort of pleated kilt around his middle. His hat wasn't a hat at all. It was a wig. The hair was braided into tight, thin braids held together with wire and beads. Worst of all was what she saw in his hand: a nasty-looking whip!
Scarlett knew what she had to do.
She took off.CHAPTER 3
She didn't get far. Her feet slipped in the sand. Down she went. Scarlett rolled head over heels to the bottom of the dune. The man grabbed her arm. He yanked her to her feet.
Scarlett had sand in her hair, in her shoes, in her mouth and eyes. "Let me go!" she yelled. "Or I'll ... I'll ..." Scarlett wanted to make a threat, but she couldn't think of anything threatening. Finally, she said, "I'll tell my dad."
It wasn't much of a threat. It didn't work.
"Watch how you speak to me, slave!" the man answered. "Did you think you could escape? Where did you think you could run? There's nothing here but sand." He laughed long and hard. "You're lucky. I'm in a good mood. Otherwise, I would give you a taste of this."
He cracked the whip.
The man marched her back up the dune. He cracked the whip every few yards to hurry her along. It was the same going down the other side. Scarlett slid most of the way to the bottom.
When she got there, she saw Sam. The other man held him by the collar.
"We're in trouble," whispered Sam as the men marched them toward the pyramids.
"Duh!" said Scarlett. "But don't worry. I've got my cell phone in my pocket. I'll wait till they're not looking. Then I'll call 911."
"I don't think that'll work," Sam said. "You won't get a signal here."
"Why not?" Scarlett asked.
"They don't have cell phone towers in ancient Egypt."
"Ancient Egypt?" Scarlett gasped. "What are we doing in ancient Egypt?"
"Grandma Mina's carpet brought us back in time," said Sam. "I figured it out while I was trying to ask those guys for directions. That's why the pyramids look strange. In ancient Egypt they were covered with white stone. They only turned that sandy color a thousand years later, when people pulled off the stone to build houses. And the Sphinx was painted. It had a red face and a blue beard. Take a look at it. Red face. Blue beard. Am I right?"
"The evidence seems to back you up," Scarlett admitted. "How do you know all this stuff?"
"I saw it on The History Channel."
"Keep moving! No talking!" The man who captured Scarlett stopped their conversation with a crack of his whip. SNAP! He cracked it again—right next to Scarlett's ear.
"Hey, watch it!" cried Scarlett. "There are laws against child abuse."
"Not here," said Sam as he and Scarlett stumbled across the burning hot sand.
The two Egyptians forced the twins to climb one enormous dune after another. The hot sand scorched their feet. Sweat dripped down their faces. Just when they thought they couldn't take another step, they reached the top of the last dune. Looking down, they saw a road. Sam and Scarlett couldn't wait to reach it. Walking on flat ground had to be way easier than struggling over hot, slippery dunes.
But before the twins could go any farther, they saw a disturbing sight: a long line of people pulling an enormous statue along the road. From the top of the dune, the people looked like ants lugging a big piece of candy back to their nest. The immense statue had to be taller than Sam and Scarlett's house. The people tugged on ropes tied around the statue. All of them were covered with dust. Their clothes were rags. They looked thin and hungry, as if they hadn't had a good meal in a long, long time. Except for the two dozen guys with whips, who strutted up and down the line of struggling people. They sure didn't look as if they had missed any meals. Sam and Scarlett saw one guy crack his whip across a worker's back.
"This is terrible!" Scarlett exclaimed. "Why should those poor, weak people have to pull that huge statue in this heat?"
"They must be slaves," Sam said. "Remember how our new friend here called you a slave earlier?"
"Of course I remember! But I still can't believe what I'm seeing. What gives those Egyptians the right to be so cruel?"
Sam didn't have an answer to that question. And he didn't have time to think of one before the twins' Egyptian captors started pushing them down the dune and onto the road.
Another Egyptian slave driver walked up to look them over. This man was huge and scary. He carried a long, black whip—longer and nastier-looking than any of the others Sam and Scarlett had seen so far.
"We found some strays," said the Egyptian who'd chased down Scarlett.
"Actually, I think there's been a misunderstanding," said Sam. "We're not slaves. We're not even from around here. We're just trying to get home ..."
"Are you Hebrews?" demanded the slave driver with the monster whip.
Sam and Scarlett looked at each other.
"Why is he asking if we're Jewish?" Scarlett whispered.
"I don't know," Sam said. "Maybe he's wondering if we need a kosher meal."
"Yeah," they answered proudly. "We are Hebrews."
The man snapped his whip. "Then GET TO WORK!"CHAPTER 4
The Egyptian's whip flashed an inch from Sam's nose.
"These guys mean business," Sam whispered to Scarlett as they hurried to join the other slaves.
"You bet they do," one of the slave boys said. "Best keep your mouth closed. They don't put up with any whining or complaining."
"Why are they so mean?" Scarlett asked.
"The Egyptians are building two cities, Pithom and Ramses," the boy answered. "Pharaoh wants them finished by his birthday."
"When's his birthday?" Sam asked.
"Next month. The work isn't even half done."
"The Egyptians will finish on time—if it kills us!" another slave added.
"Quiet!" barked the slave driver. "Less talk, more work! Get busy, you two!" The whip snapped again. It flicked up the sand at the twins' feet. They had to dance to keep the whip's tail from stinging their skin.
Sam and Scarlett grabbed hold of one of the ropes and pulled with the other slaves.
The statue barely budged. That wasn't surprising. The Egyptians had invented the chariot, but they still hadn't figured out the wagon. The statue was being pulled along on rollers made from logs. When one log reached the back of the statue's pedestal, slaves would pick it up. They would carry it to the front to be used again.
"This is so inefficient," Sam whispered to Scarlett.
"That's the least of our worries," Scarlett whispered back.
For what seemed like hours, frightened slaves pulled on ropes. Other slaves ran around with heavy logs on their shoulders, trying not get crushed as they placed the rollers in front of the moving statue. Meanwhile, the Egyptians kept cracking their whips, lashing anyone who didn't work hard enough.
"This is a nightmare! Why doesn't someone say something?" Sam murmured.
"It's like kids who are bullied at school," said Scarlett. "Someone needs to show them how to stand up for themselves. These slaves can't do it. They're too scared. If someone's going to do anything about it, it has to be us."
"Please! Don't say anything," a slave girl pleaded. "You'll only make the Egyptians angry. That will make it worse for all of us."
"How can it get worse than this?" Sam asked. He pulled the rope as hard as he could.
"You don't know the Egyptians," the slave girl whispered. "They can always think of new ways to make our lives even more miserable."
"And after we finish today, we still have to make bricks," said a slave boy.
"Bricks?" Scarlett echoed.
"Each slave has to make fifty bricks per day. The Egyptians count them. If there aren't enough bricks, we have to make more. If there are too many, the count has to begin all over again. It's usually long past dark by the time we finish. Then they give us a handful of grain for our supper. We still have to grind it and bake it. Finally, we get to sleep for a few hours, if we're lucky. When the sun comes up, we start working again."
"Don't you get any time off?" Scarlett asked. "Weekends? Holidays? Shabbat?"
"Time off? What's that?" the slave girl asked.
"You've got to be kidding!" Sam exclaimed.
"I can't believe it! No holidays!" Scarlett said.
"Believe it!" a slave boy said. "It was bad enough when the Egyptians still gave us straw to put in the bricks. All we had to do was dig the clay and mix in the straw. Then this guy named Moses showed up. Something he said made Pharaoh angry. Pharaoh's afraid to touch Moses, so he took it out on us. Now we have to wander around in the fields after dark, trying to find our own straw. It takes forever. But we still have to make as many bricks as before."
"That's not fair!" said Scarlett.
"There's nothing fair about being a slave," an old man replied.
"Scarlett, did you hear that?" Sam whispered. "That slave boy talked about Moses. Moses is here. Now. In Egypt."
"That means the time of freedom can't be far away!" said Scarlett.
"Right," said Sam. "Plus, if anyone can help us get home, it's Moses!"
"What makes you think that?" asked Scarlett.
"He's a prophet, Scarlett! He's one of our greatest teachers. He'll figure something out."
"Then let's start looking for him," Scarlett said.
Excerpted from Scarlett and Sam by Eric A. Kimmel, Ivica Stevanovic. Copyright © 2015 Eric A. Kimmel. Excerpted by permission of Kar-Ben Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1: The Carpet,
Chapter 2: In the Desert,
Chapter 3: Prisoners,
Chapter 4: Good News,
Chapter 5: Moses and Aaron,
Chapter 6: Pharaoh's Palace,
Chapter 7: Stinky,
Chapter 8: Staff Into Snake,
Chapter 9: Seti,
Chapter 10: Podcast,
Chapter 11: Countdown,
Chapter 12: The Tenth Plague,
Chapter 13: Leaving Egypt,
Chapter 14: Juba,
Chapter 15: At the Sea,
Chapter 16: Horse and Rider,
Chapter 17: Four Questions,
The Story of Passover,