Skip to main content

Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert, illustrated by Lisa Brown

Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert with illustrations by Lisa Brown has to be one of the most intriguing picture books I've read this year! This rhyming story layers history, biography, hieroglyphics and intrigue into what, on the surface, is the story of a girl and her beloved pet.

Ewert begins Mummy Cat, "The winds hiss over desert sand, / The moon shines down on empty land. / And long ago . . ." Four pages build suspense, leading up to the introduction of the cat who has "passed through death." One night each century, mummy cat awakens to see if his loving friend has also returned so "that his lonely time can end."

A sad Mummy Cat shuffles the hall, looking for his girl, a queen inspired by the historical Hatshepsut, which Ewert presents as, "Hat-shup-set." I think this is fantastic, helping with pronunciation and supporting the rhyme. Another absolutely fantastic aspect of Mummy Cat is the end matter that, in four pages, covers "Mummies, Cats, Queens and Hieroglyphics" in an engaging way that also reveals the layers of the story.

As mummy cat wanders the tomb, he sees "painted scenes / of his past life, with Egypt's queen." The scenes show the bond between the girl queen and her cat, but as the story unfolds, the event of her untimely death is revealed. The next scenes depict the burial process for the queen and her Mummy Cat. Saddened by the paintings, Mummy Cat heads into a room where all of Hat-shup-set's possessions are spread out, as if she was just playing with them. Carrying her royal ring with him, he waits by her golden coffin where he'll "wait and wait, till his friend reappears: / the queen of his heart . . . for three thousand years."

The final, poignant illustration shows the mummified Hat-shup-set cradling her purring Mummy Cat in her lap. And it is in these illustrations that another story emerges. Brown's illustrations are magnificent and call to mind some of my favorite graphic novels. Her work is detailed but not overwhelming, remaining crisp on the page. Brown's palette is dominated by earth tones with splashes of color that bring the story to life. Mummy Cat begs for multiple readings. At first, I read Mummy Cat for the moving story of a girl and her cat. I went back and read it a second time looking more closely at the illustrations, specifically the paintings on the walls of the tomb and was rewarded with the story of a jealous girl and her monkey bringing about the death of the queen. Before my third reading, I fortified myself by reading the end matter and was rewarded again. Ewert and Brown have placed 17 hieroglyphics in the story that reveal that the jealous girl was Hat-shup-set's sister who wanted the crown for herself! However, yet another close reading will reveal one final thing about her sister. . .

I could go on and on, and I can't believe I have so much to write about a picture book! But, Mummy Cat is a very special picture book that should grab the interest of readers of all ages!

Source: Review Copy


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…