Ancient Egypt

6th April 2001 at 01:00
THE COMPLETE BOOK OF MUMMIES. By Claire Llewellyn. Hodder Wayland pound;12.99. EGYPTIAN MUMMIES. By Delia Pemberton. British Museum Press pound;8.99.

ANCIENT EGYPT RESOURCE BOOK. By Suzanne Brown. Prim-Ed Publishing pound;19.95.

A spider in the bath? No problem. Show me stomach-churning pictures of hyenas eating zebras alive and I won't turn a hair. Squeamish I am not, but The Complete Book of Mummies is a bit too much for me. Those revealing colour photographs are the problem. Windeby Girl (blindfolded and drowned); the vacant, staring eye-sockets of an Inuit baby; Tollund Man (complete with noose around his neck); toothless hanging mummies from the catacombs in Palermo - do I have to go on? Make no mistake, in most respects this is a fine book, but it is just too complete. If it had been a little less intrusive or indelicate I would have had few reservations about its suitability for young children who will, of course, be attracted to it, as are spectators to a traffic accident. But we should wave them by. <> Delia Pemberton's treatment of the subject is, on the other hand, exemplary. It is investigative and revealing without overstepping the boundaries of good taste. Exclusively dealing with Egyptian mummies, it focuses on mummies as people, giving us their names, where they are known, and trying to tease out as much knowledge about them as possible from the evidence available.

Ankhef, Ginger, Katebet and Hornedjitef are shown to be human beings, like you and me, with hobbies, relatives and toothache. The photographs are a splendid complement to the writing, which is almost flawless - spot-on for older juniors.

Knowledgeable and detailed teacher's notes, and more photocopiable worksheets than you are ever likely to need, are packed into Suzanne Brown's resource book. Often overcrowded with data and small line drawings, the sheets are set using a font that taxes the eye, which is a shame because the book is not lacking in good ideas. It is the production that is amateur.

Paul Noble


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