Anubis spoke... to me. Not literally, that would be crazy - right?!? But this book spoke to me and I believe it has the power to speak to middle grade readers in a way that both informs and entertains. The common core gets excited about that kind of thing, ya know! As a school librarian, I am well versed in ALL of Rick Riordan's very popular series, including The Kane Chronicles. If you haven't had the pleasure, I highly suggest you check them out. With that said, I think Riordan has opened a door for young readers to engage with mythology (Greek, Roman, Egyptian, I hear Norse is on the way) with new characters. Once the door is open, they don't want to go back. Like Pandora's Box - too much? Instead, they want to learn more and they inhale other myth based books like Apophis wants to inhale Ra (sun eating snake for those out of the loop...or is the loop the snakes that eat themselves - but I'm getting ahead of myself).
Last year, our category was nonfiction picture book but it has been expanded to include books for middle grade readers. In order to create a balanced shortlist, I hope we see a balance of traditional nonfiction picture books, more text based informational picture books and books with more text dense heft to them...like Anubis Speaks. Which is not to say there aren't awesome illustrations. Because there are. Antoine Revoy does a smashing job of accompanying the text with detail rich illustrations that keep the reader turning the page. Wondering what it looks like when Anubis helps tip the scales in your favor as a bloodthirsty croc leers in the background? Look no further.
Now, here's the tricky part. I'm reading Anubis Speaks as one of many non-fiction books for elementary and middle grade readers. Most of the other books have a more nonfiction feel to them which can make this a difficult sell. Anubis is our narrator but all of the information that he presents is true. It is either true of ancient Egyptians and their rituals as we understand them. For example, Egyptians did learn to embalm bodies. Fact. Or it may be a true part of their religious rituals. For example, Ra's priests (real life people) DID write down the monster's (Apophis') names and light them on fire or bury them. Fact. And their religious rituals are based on what we now consider Egyptian mythology which belongs in a very nonfiction Dewey Decimal System area: 299.3113.
Likewise, the sources listed are thorough and documented on a page and a half. The book is complete with a glossary and an index.
Also, this book is fun. Really fun. I didn't want to put it down or stop reading fun. I am looking forward to reading more by Vicki Alvear Shecter. She has a writer's voice that middle grade readers will relate to. She is funny and takes care NOT to spare any gory details. This book will book talk itself right off your shelves and into readers hands. Check out Anubis Speaks immediately if not a little sooner.
And, for Elizabeth Dulemba's take on the book and an interview with the author, click...here.
You may recall that I am also a fan of Elizabeth's work with The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. Enjoy!
Follow @valvearshecter and @antoinerevoy on Twitter
Published 2013 by Boyds Mills Press
I received this copy from the publisher specifically to review for CYBILS