Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Her Date is a 3000 Year-Old Mummy
The Professor's Daughter
by Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert
Translated by Alexis Siegel
First Second, 2007 (originally, 1997)
I predict that this book will be one of the strong contenders for the 2007 Cybils Graphic Novel (Age 13-up) Award.
Lillian Bowell, daughter of the greatest British archaeologist, the esteemed Professor Bowell, needs an escort so she can walk to Kensington. Her father won't be home until later that evening. What's a girl to do? What indeed: take the mummy of Imhotep IV out of his sarcophagus, dress him up in tails and top hat, and go for a stroll!
The story veers from ludicrous to touching (Imhotep cries when he hears Mozart for the first time and gets drunk on tea) to slapstick funny (Imhotep declares his love for Lillian and his intention to marry her to her father who replies, "You are the property of the British museum. You are dead. Stay out of this.") all in the course of the first twenty pages.
A crime is committed, Lillian is kidnapped (turns out, by Imhotep III, father of Imhotep IV...you guessed it, another mummy), Imhotep IV is lost and found, and he sets out to rescue Lillian.
Queen Victoria makes an appearance late in the story, but she refuses to be of any help, so Imhotep III dumps her in the Thames. The Guards remark, "Doesn't it look like the queen is crossing the Thames doing the backstroke?"
The ending is satisfying, and brings closure to the two dream sequences during the story that reveal interesting truths about Imhotep's very first love and his very first children.
I can't tell you any more. You just have to read it for yourself. And then smile, shake your head, and read it again. (Make sure you get the Collector's Edition, which includes Guibert's "London Sketches From the British Museum and the Streets of London, 1977." You can see the characters and settings begin to come to life.)
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