cover image I Am the Mummy Heb-Nefert

I Am the Mummy Heb-Nefert

Eve Bunting. Harcourt Children's Books, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200479-8

A mummy's moving soliloquy on youth, love and the fleeting nature of life is the centerpiece of this hauntingly beautiful picture book. Bunting's quiet, lyrical prose can send shivers down a reader's spine, whether revisiting Heb-Nefert's glory days or following her, like her faithful cat, Nebut, ""into the silent twilight of the afterlife when day changed to eternity,"" and to her final resting place in a museum ""in glass coffins under lights in quiet rooms."" Christiana's (White Nineteens) ethereal watercolors underscore the elegance of the words, echoing Heb-Nefert's dreamy tone with brushstrokes as whisper-soft as a layer of sheer Egyptian gauze. He expertly juxtaposes a predominantly cool background against darker images (e.g., the mummy herself, ""black as night, stretched tight as leather on a drum"") and splashes of color (jewels in the young Heb-Nefert's hair; a dash of yellow on a young museum-goer's shirt) for a keenly striking visual effect. Certain to leave a lasting impression. Ages 7-12. (Apr.)