cover image The Gypsy Game

The Gypsy Game

Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Ghauri. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32266-9

Having laid to rest the enactments of ancient rituals described so unforgettably in the 1967 classic The Egypt Game, Snyder's charismatic crew of five sharp middle-schoolers (and one precocious 4-year-old) trade in their robes and headdresses for colorful jewels and decide to become Gypsies. But before they have a chance to convert their favorite meeting place, the shack behind the A-Z antique store, into a Gypsy camp, the most distracted member of the gang, Toby, who professes to be ""one-quarter genuine Gypsy,"" suddenly disappears. Laced with mystery, this sequel has much of the allure of its predecessor. Again, the darkness of the adult world overshadows the children's play: Toby's snobbish grandparents want to take him away from his unconventional father; and Toby, thinking he needs to protect his father, evades his grandparents in a dingy section of town. The plotting is not quite as tight, with the author taking a circuitous route around the mystery to allow for the discussion of social issues like homelessness; and Toby, a central figure here, is not developed quite as compellingly as April in The Egypt Game. But these are differences of small degrees, and the work continues to offer Snyder's well-nigh irresistible combination of suspense, wit and avowal of the imagination. The book's gratifying denouement leads the way for a third installment for readers to eagerly await. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)