Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Years ago,  I was obsessed with Graeme Base's THE ELEVENTH HOUR. It was a fun mystery with a code that needed to be solved.  My family and I spent hours working through the text and pictures to determine the answer to the mystery.  My students (at the time 4th graders) were also hooked and many spent days working on the puzzle.  I can see the same thing happening with Graeme Base's new book THE JEWEL FISH OF KARNAK.

Graeme Base's newest picture book takes place in Ancient Egypt.  Two thieves named Jackal and Ibis are caught stealing.  The only way that they can be pardoned by the Cat Pharaoh is to find and bring back the golden Jewel Fish of Karnak that was stolen by the Crocodile Prince.  It sounds easy enough and they don't have many rules to follow. The Cat Pharaoh does let them know that it is important that they (#1)  do not take anything else and (#2) do not let the Jewel Fish get wet.

All goes well enough and the two thieves take the Jewel Fish and get away.  However, they do take a few extra treasures with them when they go. I won't give away the whole ending (that is not really the ending), but the Jewel Fish is lost and the thieves must confess to the Cat Pharaoh.

Just as in THE ELEVENTH HOUR, it seems the fun begins after the last page because the Cat Pharaoh sends them to find the fish.  This is where the reader comes in.  The challenge is for the reader to use the codes and puzzles throughout the book to find the fish. When the fish is discovered, it can be turned in to the Cat Pharaoh on Graeme Base's website for a reward.

I can see a few kids digging into this book and working hard to find the solution.  I have lots of readers who love codes and who love to read about Ancient Egypt.   I plan to share Graeme Base's book trailer (available on his site) with students sometime this month. I think the trailer will definitely hook them!

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