How the Sphinx Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland

65875609Lynn: How DID the Sphinx get to the museum?  The title totally captured my attention and the charming cover illustrations drew the focus group in immediately.  The twins are fascinated by the ancient Egyptians so I knew How the Sphinx Got to the Museum (Blue Apple 2010) was going to be a favorite.  (A Playmobile Pyramid takes up a large amount of space in our family room and we are forever stepping on plastic mummies!)  In the story, a teacher tells her class the history of a particular sphinx – one created for the female pharaoh Hatshepsut – that was later broken apart, discovered, put back together and put on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Told in repeating cadences like a familiar children’s song, the story details all the fascinating steps along the way ending with a class trip to the museum.  The reader learns about the many steps in the statue’s creation as well as the multitudes of people and tasks that were necessary for it to be viewed by museum visitors.  The focus group was fascinated by this peek into the the backstage workings of the museum.

Hartland’s charming comic illustrations and intriguing graphic text made this truly unique book a winner!

Cindy: The structure of this book, using a cumulative tale format (think The House That Jack Built) is perfect for teaching the intended young audience the many steps involved in the process of museum acquisition and curatorship necessary before the public can ever enjoy the resulting display. The steps mount up as the text builds with the refrain.

Here is an agent from Egypt’s DEPARTMENT OF ANTIQUITIES, which suprervises the ancient site and decides the Metropolitan Museum will receive several statues, including the partially put together SPHINX that was…

found by the ARCHAEOLOGIST,
smashed and cracked by the STEPSON,
hailed by the EGYPTIAN PRIESTS,
made by the SCULPTOR
AND ORDERED BY THE PHARAOH.

Having read the story of how the Sphinx got to the museum, I of course had to go look up a photo of the real object. This is engaging nonfiction for the young elementary student, but the additional facts and history in the afterward will help adults fill in the cracks as questions are raised.

nonfiction_mondayClick on over to Great Kid Books for this week’s Nonfiction Monday round up.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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