Hide-and-Seek History: The Egyptians by Jonny Marx, illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat

Cover art by Chaaya Prabhat

With the introduction of the study of several ancient civilisations in the 2014 National Curriculum for Key Stage 2 (KS2), children of this age now have the opportunity to study the history of several of these peoples in school. I have taught all of them since they were introduced and yet it is the ancient Egyptians above all the others that still fascinate not only me but a great many of my pupils. I remember well visiting the British Museum as a child about 40 years ago and seeing the mummies and canopic jars in their glass cases and feeling the thrill of the mystery of these artefacts – a thrill I still feel whenever I visit, even now.

I don’t think there can be many children who fail to be equally as intrigued as I was all those years ago when I was first introduced to the concept of mummification and the Egyptian gods with their animal heads and their exciting mythology and so when I was offered the opportunity to read and review this glorious lift-the flap book there was no way I was going to decline it.

Even without the added excitement of the flaps to lift within the book and – even more excitingly – second, secret flaps beneath some of those obvious on the pages, this would be a wonderful read for anyone interested in the ancient Egyptians. With its brightly coloured illustrations by Chaaya Prabhat filling each double-page spread, the book covers a broad range of historical and geographical knowledge from the off.

And a lot of knowledge is packed into this book but not in an overwhelming way with huge chunks of text. Here, the information is broken down into little nuggets – mostly single sentences or short paragraphs, that combined with the flaps to investigate, will ensure that even the most reluctant of readers will want to read this book. Undoubtedly, many children will want to turn straight to those pages that deal with mummification but that does not matter – with each double-page spread covering a separate topic, the book lends itself perfectly to being dipped in and out of.

Rather than containing a glossary at the back of the book, technical vocabulary is explained clearly and simply within the book which will enable those less confident readers to access the its contents with ease – something that is so important if we want all of our children to not only read but to enjoy reading. For those children who prefer a non-fiction text, especially a shorter one, this book is absolutely perfect.

Sadly, I am not teaching ancient Egypt this year but that does not matter. This is a book that belongs on the shelf in all KS2 classrooms – whatever their topics – simply because it is one that children – and adults – will love. I know that there will be arguments over who gets to read this in my Year 5 class because it is an irresistible read – one which I am delighted to be able to share with them. As always, huge thanks must go to Little Tiger Press for the advance copy they so kindly sent me. 5 out of 5 stars.

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