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Review of The Egypt Game

The Egypt Game
by Zilpha Keatley Snyder; illus. by Alton Raible
215 pp.     Atheneum     1967     $3.95

An abandoned, closed-in yard behind an antique shop was the perfect place to play the Egypt Game. The children could put up their altars to Set, the Evil One, and to Nefertiti or Isis (as the bust of Nefertiti gradually was called), who represented “love and beauty and every kind of perfection.” They could have secret meetings, practice rites and ceremonies, and be princesses and high priests without anyone knowing. Only Melanie’s four-year-old brother, who kept his own counsel, was aware sometimes of a face watching them through the dusty back window of the antique shop. The story moves with suspense and humor, despite evidence that the ingredients were deliberately assembled. The characters, though delightfully real, appear to have been carefully selected to represent a cross section of middle-class Americans, including a lonely child from Hollywood newly come to stay with her grandmother, a Negro girl and her little brother, a Chinese-American girl, a Japanese-American boy. Incidents are contrived to build a story of contemporary urban life (in this case, a large university town in California), complete with the shadow of a murderer lurking in the community. There is little doubt about the appeal of this lively book with its up-to-the-minute speech and situations, even though it was obviously written to fill current “needs” and will soon be dated. One always hopes, however, for a book of lasting quality from so sensitive and competent a writer as Mrs. Snyder. RUTH HILL VIGUERS

From the April 1967 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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