July 31, 2012

The Mummy's Mother

THE MUMMY'S MOTHER by Tony Johnston (Blue Sky Press, 2003)
GENRE: Adventure / Humor

REVIEW: Ramoses is a 4, 010 year old mummy (4, 010 because he was 10 years old when he was mummified 4,000 years ago). For all that time, he and his mother, the Queen, have been tucked quietly in their tomb, waiting for the Afterlife, until one day, nefarious thieves steal his mother's mummy away. Though young, inexperienced and a bit physically fragile (one good thump could crumble his ancient bones), Ramoses heads off in pursuit, undertaking a journey that leads him through the desert on a cranky camel, to a ship where he makes friends and plays ping-pong and finally to New York, where his mother is being displayed in a museum. Ramoses is a sweet and earnest protagonist, whose vulnerabilities (both emotional and physical) are nicely balanced by his bravery and his ability to rise to every occasion. Johnston keeps things moving without unduly rushing the narrative. The result is a well-paced little story that lingers just long enough on each of Ramoses's adventures for humor or tension to bloom, without interfering with the pace.

OPINION: The Mummy's Mother makes up in humor and pacing for what it lacks in depth. Still, given that it is aimed at younger adolescents, a slight lack of depth could be considered a plus. It is especially humorous that Ramoses, who looks like a typical mummy, never arouses the suspicion of adults, most of whom assume he is a normal boy wearing bandages for some reason. This fun and funny suspension of disbelief contributes greatly to the book's charm. As an added benefit, Johnston weaves in a lot of aspects of Ancient Egyptian history and mythology, which will likely pique the interest of young readers and perhaps prompt them to learn more.

IDEAS: A great suggestion to younger tweens interested in Ancient Egypt or quick adventures with a gentle dose of humor. Also a nice supplementary reading for classrooms who are doing a unit on world mythology as the names and functions of Egyptian gods are featured throughout.

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