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How the Sphinx Got to the Museum, review and giveaway

Most of us only get to see Ancient Egyptian artifacts in museums far from Egypt--like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, which has one of the finest collections of Egyptian art outside of Cairo.  And while there are lots of books for kids about Ancient Egypt, this book answers the question that at least one kid on every school tour is likely to ask:  How the Sphinx Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland (Blue Apple Books, 2010).

Hartland uses the school tour to frame the story of the Sphinx of Hateshepsut's journey over 3,000 years (and 5,000 miles), from the quarry at Aswan where the granite was obtained all the way to the galleries of the Met.  The cumulative story format--think The House that Jack Built--introduces some of the people and professions involved in her journey; on the museum side, those include archaeologists, art movers, curators, conservators, even the registrar, who uses "red oil paint and a teeny, tiny brush" to paint the the official number (31.3.166) on the Sphinx.

These vignettes are fascinating (trust me, kids ask about this sort of thing all the time).  Hartland varies the repetitive parts of the text just enough to keep things interesting; the use of a variety of fonts also helps here.  The ink-and-watercolor illustrations themselves are worth the price of admission, though:  colorful, detailed but not busy, expressive and entertaining (keep an eye on the Sphinx's face throughout).  Hartland worked closely with the staff at the Met, and the book has an authentic museum feel.  N.b., the docent is wearing sensible shoes.

I have an extra copy of How the Sphinx Got to the Museum to give away!  If you'd like to be entered in a random drawing (and you do; it's a gorgeous book), please leave a comment by midnight Monday, September 13.   Bonus entry if you comment with a behind-the-scenes-at-the-museum question you'd like to see answered in picture book form.

[Review copy from Blue Apple Books via Media Masters Publicity.  Thank you!]

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    books together - bookstogether - How the Sphinx Got to the Museum, review and giveaway

Reader Comments (7)

What an looking interesting book! And I appreciate the review because I might have overlooked this without the helpful, thoughtful comments!

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMoira Rose Donohue

Wow! This sounds fantastic!!! Please enter me. After teaching Egyptian art to elementary school kids for the past two years, I know that this would be a beloved addition to my schoolroom library once I get certified!

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristine Mingus

Yes, this looks like a great book, and one that I’ll be thinking about when I visit King Tut again while he’s in New York. Here’s a link to the NY Times story of how King Tut’s chariot traveled to New York - its first trip outside of Egypt in 3,300 years! http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/03/arts/design/03chariot.html

And the behind-the-scenes question I’d like to see answered - What are the duties of the librarian at The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, and how I do I get that job? (just dreaming!) :)

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShelf-employed

Interesting! So, unrelated to the museum, but as I mentioned, N is REALLY fascinated by stage effects. She still asks me "how did Mary Poppins do all that magic" .... any books on that?

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda

Oh, this looks like fun! And for my bonus question--I think it would be fun to see a picture book that literally went behind the scenes, and showed all the things that aren't on display, how they get acquired, and deaccessioned and how they are picked for exhibts, and all the science that goes into curation, etc!

I've done some work in our local anthropology museum, and the behind the scenes part is just as fascinating as what makes it into the display area.

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte

Thanks Anamaria, for your intriguing review. I'd like to read a story about how the museum started. Who were the founders -- the "businessmen and financiers as well as leading artists and thinkers of the day" that the museum's web site refers to? What kinds of problems did these people run into? How did they solve them?

September 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLiz Macklin

So far my daughter's only exposure to Ancient Egypt is looking at the illustrations in Touch the Art: Tickle Tut's Toes. We're hoping to remedy that soon. When we visit our little local art museum, my daughter usually asks, "Why can't I touch that?"

September 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJanelle

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