cover image Tutankhamen's Gift

Tutankhamen's Gift

Robert Clarke Sabuda. Atheneum Books, $18.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-31818-4

As in Sabuda's Saint Valentine , this equally arresting five-color picture book appropriates the art of another culture to evoke a specific historical setting. Here, telling the story of the 14th-century, B.C., pharaoh, Sabuda uses painted, handmade Egyptian papyrus as the background for his art; a single cut, painted piece of black paper adhered to the papyrus forms each picture. Contrasting effectively with the rich black lines are luminescent orange, purple, blue, green and gold hues. The text, well suited to the target audience, explains how the quiet, diminutive youngest son of the pharaoh Amenhotep III often stopped to watch workers erecting the elaborate sandstone temples that his father had ordered built (``All this to please the gods and keep them happy!''). ``Someday,'' Tutankhamen vows, ``I too shall do something great to honor the gods''--and that day comes sooner than anyone expects. His brother (who had succeeded his father as pharaoh) dies suddenly when Tutankhamen is 10. Ascending the Egyptian throne, the boy rebuilds all the temples that his unpopular brother had destroyed, and he rules benevolently until his death nine years later. Sabuda neatly distills the history of a celebrated young ruler while offering a visual treat on each page. Ages 6-9. (Apr.)