Lights on the Nile

Donna Jo Napoli. Harper, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-166793-0
Living in ancient Egypt around 2530 B.C.E., 10-year-old Kepi inhabits a world very aware of the presence and power of gods and spirits. Her father is wounded while helping build a pyramid for the cruel Pharaoh Khufu, putting their family under financial stress. While collecting fruit Kepi is duped and kidnapped, along with her pet baboon, Babu, by a man who wants to travel north to the capital city of Ineb Hedj and sell Babu to the pharaoh. Strong-willed and wily, Kepi refuses to be separated from Babu during the turbulent journey, praying to the gods for protection and forming her own agenda: to confront the pharaoh about his neglect of his people. Napoli (The Wager) crafts a mystical coming-of-age tale and a love letter of sorts to Egypt, saturated with proverbs, intriguing details of everyday life at the time, and rich descriptions of the places Kepi visits (“The mornings were all misty green, as though someone had woven the finest cloth of fresh leaves and draped it over the world”). Kepi’s survival skills and perspective are challenged in this absorbing adventure. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/08/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
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