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!]