Sunday, July 06, 2014

Lights On the Nile, by Donna Jo Napoli

Kepi is a young girl living in Ancient Egypt.  One day, while exploring along the banks of the Nile, her pet baboon is stolen from her.  Pursuing the thieves takes her far from home and, before she even realizes what is happening, she finds herself kidnapped and sent down the Nile towards the capital city of Ineb Hedj.  This in itself is not an unhappy happenstance as Kepi has long wanted to go there and petition the pharaoh on behalf of her crippled father.  The story is interspersed with frequent references to the pantheon of Egyptian gods and Kepi provides an excellent portrait of religious reverence.

In her books, Napoli combines decent historical detail with a quirky irreverence for standard plotting.  I'm not a fan of the strange way she ended this book, but I mostly enjoyed the story up to that point.  It's a colorful tale with a gentle informational approach.  Grownups might worry about the terribly dangerous situations that Kepi lands herself in, but children probably enjoy the adventure.  It isn't Napoli's best book (I prefer her book about Mona Lisa The Smile to this day), but this one is good.

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