Morley, Jacqueline. How to Be an Egyptian Princess. National Geographic Children’s Books, 2006. ISBN 978-0792274940 32 pp. $
Have YOU got what it takes to be an Egyptian Princess? This creative history book teleports kids back to ancient times through the pretext of applying for the job as the daughter of an Egyptian King. Opening with a job description that includes such duties as obedience, dignity and “avoiding jealousy and plotting,” the book includes a map of the fertile crescent and overview of the topography and climate before delving into the details of life in the palace. Spanning such details as people (royal family, servants and relatives), places (the garden, the temple) and things (furnishings, dress, and jewelry), the book includes all the major aspects of society and culture. The volume concludes with an interview in the form of a ten-question, multiple choice, reading comprehension quiz. Many of Hawthorne’s detailed center panels contain comic book style dialogue bubbles that enhance the text and add a touch of humor.
The layout is traditional: a few paragraphs to the left of each two page spread with a large illustration in the center, surrounded by a clockwise series of subheadings with more text and graphics. This design is a little busy and doesn’t take into account the quirky way the millennial generation scans a page (bottom and sides first, honing in on the center). Sidebars include how to load a musket, excellent labeled clothing diagrams, and photos of artifacts such as vessels and vases, a headrest and a mummy case lid.
One strength of the “How to Be A” series is that the authors have a deep and specific interest and expertise in their topic. Morley, a history and English educator is no exception. The second person perspective draws the reader into the simple and straightforward writing; well-chosen facts enforce the extravagance of the lux life.
The glossary is brief and composed mostly of words defined in context. Sources are cited only for photos, and just two books are recommended for further reading (one published by the same parent company as this one). This is an engaging and thorough introduction to life on the Nile in a royal household.