cover image TEN LITTLE MUMMIES: An Egyptian Counting Book

TEN LITTLE MUMMIES: An Egyptian Counting Book

Philip Yates, Iris Brian Murdoch, , illus. by G. Brian Karas. . Viking, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-670-03641-7

Mummies dance—and play croquet—in this cheeky countdown primer starring 10 well-bandaged ancestors from the pharaonic age. Although they start out in a dark tomb, "wrapped up in themselves" and "bored stiff" (two of the book's many so-bad-they're-good plays on words), the gang soon escapes to the desert—which Karas (Princess Fishtail) captures in the saturated blues, golds and browns associated with Egyptian decorative art. "Eight little mummies/ committed hijinks," writes Yates (coauthor of Biggest Joke Book in the World), "One was arrested for painting the Sphinx." The fun and mischief continue even as their numbers dwindle one by one; with their intense dot-eyes and wiry, determined bodies, these mummies have enough energy for several afterlives. The humor is dark—one mummy is carried off by a falcon, another blown away by a sandstorm, and one simply comes all undone—but Karas's playful compositions keep the tone light (e.g., the other mummies look on with concern as their friend unravels during a chariot race), and all 10 tomb mates are safely and happily reunited in the end, anticipating even more fun to be had the next day. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)