To a child, the future is a magnificent dream. For Jean-Francois Champollion, the dream was to sail up the Nile in Egypt and uncover the secrets of the past. In 1802, when Champollion was eleven years old, he vowed to be the first person to read Egypt's ancient hieroglyphs. He faced great challenges over the next twenty years as he searched for the elusive key to the mysterious writing -- and the fulfillment of his dreams.
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Master storyteller James Rumford combines his love for art and history in his picture books. Each of his books is vastly different in its content, design, and illustrations but one aspect remains constant throughout his work: his passion about his subjects. Rumford, a resident of Hawaii, has studied more than a dozen languages and worked in the Peace Corps, where he traveled to Africa, Asia, and Afghanistan. He draws from these experiences and the history of his subject when he is working on a book. His book Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing was a 2005 Sibert Honor winner.From School Library Journal :
Grade 2-5-This picture-book biography tells the intriguing story of the man who deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs. As a child, Jean-Fran?ois Champollion learned that no one could read Egyptian writing and determined that he would be the one to do so. By age 16, he had learned all the known ancient languages and was eager to work with scholars who were attempting to translate the hieroglyphs with the help of the Rosetta Stone. Though they turned him down, he doggedly pursued his passion on his own and at age 30, had a sudden breakthrough. While studying the name of a Pharaoh copied from a temple wall, he discovered that the characters were not just related to meaning, but also to sounds. Though the key to unlocking the secret may not be completely clear to children, Champollion's fascination with hieroglyphs and the realization of his dream will capture their interest and perhaps whet their curiosity for further study. Framed watercolor paintings done in soft blues, purples, and sunlit pinks evoke a sense of mystery compatible with the suspense of the scholar's discovery process. Small hieroglyphs are embedded in the text. Those with less-obvious meanings seem distracting at first reading. More effective are the larger, captioned ones in the margins that make the picture-meaning connection clear ("There is a long-necked, far-seeing giraffe in 'predict'"). Overall, an engaging introduction to a timeless topic.
Adele Greenlee, Bethel College, St. Paul, MN
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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