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Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert

Written by Marcus Ewert & illustrated by Lisa Brown
(Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $16.99, Ages 4-8)

Reviewer Cathy Ballou Mealey just can’t keep mummy about this picture book!


A loyal and loving feline searches for his devoted owner, a young Egyptian queen in Marcus Ewert and Lisa Brown’s clever picture book MUMMY CAT. The catch? He’s just woken from a hundred year’s sleep after having been mummified and entombed in a beautifully decorated pyramid.

For young readers, the tale works on the simplest level as the pet seeks to reunite with his owner. The determined, inquisitive cat is appealing and adorable despite his elaborate linen wrappings. The tomb is bright and colorful, filled with interesting artifacts, a swirling moth, and cute little mice. Even a few spiders and cobwebs are so delightfully depicted that timid listeners will have nothing to fear.

As he wanders though the pyramid, the cat gazes fondly at painted murals showing his past life with the queen, Hapshupset. Indeed, the murals tell a more complex story within the story about a jealous, scheming sibling that complicated the young queen’s life. This aspect of the book will hold enormous appeal for older readers. Looking beyond the captivating mural images, we slowly decode the devious actions of Hapshupset’s sister and her evil lion-monkey.

An author’s note explains mummies, cats, queens and hieroglyphics for readers who want to know more, and seventeen hieroglyphs hidden within the illustrations are spelled out in more detail.

Ewert’s rhyming text is short yet descriptive, moving the story forward at a steady pace. Deep within this maze of stone, a creature wakes up, all alone . . .Spanning the full scope of this once-a-century event, Ewert leads us from the sun setting over hot desert sands into the tomb, through the night, and closing as the sun is beginning to rise. The spare but rich narrative leaves plenty of opportunity for Brown’s engaging, creative illustrations to flourish and add poignant, tender touches.

Just as Egyptian priests tucked magical amulets and symbolic treasures into a mummy’s linens, Ewert and Brown have slipped countless sweet delights into the pages of MUMMY CAT. Turn the pages slowly and savor them one by one. I’m certain you will also be en-wrap-tured by its many charms!

  • Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey


Where Obtained:  I reviewed a copy of MUMMY CAT from my library and received no other compensation.  The opinions expressed here are my own.


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A Civil War Ghost Story

Amanda Hogg reviews Picture the Dead ($8.99,  Sourcebooks, Ages 10+)
16 year old Jennie has had a rough life. After her parents died, she and her twin brother were sent to live with a despicable aunt, cowed uncle and two cousins – Will and Quinn. Jennie briefly finds happiness after she and Will fall in love and become engaged, but that happiness is short-lived as Will and her brother are killed in the Civil War. Jennie is devastated by her loss, terrified about her future and haunted by Will’s ghost. Luckily, Quinn, Will’s brother, comes home from the war with the intention of marrying Jennie, which should secure her future – or so she thinks. 
Because Will had been kind and good to her while Quinn had been cruel and scornful, Jennie is immediately suspicious of his intentions towards her. As Quinn begins to protect and defend her from his mother, her fears about his real intentions lessen, but the frequency and intensity of Will’s spectral visits, which frequently manifest as hands wrapped around her neck, increase. To set Will’s spirit at peace, Jennie begins to investigate his death, which leads her down a confusing path strewn with lies and schemes, and makes her question who she can trust – the new, kind Quinn, or Will’s ghost.
Part historical fiction, part gothic mystery, part scrapbook, Adele Griffin’s words and Lisa Brown’s illustrations in Picture the Dead provide a complete picture of the lives wrecked, the careers created and the hearts broken by the Civil War. Picture the Dead weaves the Spiritualism that was rampant during and after the Civil War into the storyline in the character of Geist, a medium who claims he can capture spirits in photographs. The illustrations serve to explain how Daguerreotypes were made and forged in addition to providing clues to Will’s mysterious death. Picture the Dead is a transportive read that will leave readers chilled to the bone. 
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