Mummies Unwrapped

Mummies Unwrapped
Tom Froese
Nosy Crow (in collaboration with The British Museum)

Ancient Egypt is a popular topic for the KS2 History curriculum but the subject of mummies is given relatively little attention.

Now illustrator Tom Froese reveals their mysteries in this book unravelling both those of humans and animals. To allow them to remain together in the afterlife, sometimes pets were mummified at the same time as their humans.
First of all is an explanation of what a mummy actually is, and the origin of the word. We then learn how a mummy was made. It was crucial to start the embalming process as soon as possible to prevent the body rotting in the hot sun.

An embalmer’s toolkit is depicted and the entire process is described.

If you’ve ever wondered what the wrappings were made of, they were generally linen torn into long strips that look a bit like bandages.

We learn the grisly details of what was done with internal organs (only the heart was left in place as this was thought to be needed in the afterlife), as well as reading of the outcomes of embalmers’ errors.

There’s information about the funeral procession (after 70 days) to the tomb and what took place thereafter. There’s also a spread introducing some of the most famous mummies including Tutankhamun and one called the ‘unlucky mummy’ said to have been cursed.

Unearthed too are stories of tomb robbers, and what took place when archaeologists discovered mummies thousands of years after their burial; there’s mention of fake mummies and other shenanigans. Apparently the French King Francis 1 always carried a packet of powdered mummy with him in case he was ever in need of urgent healing. Bizarre!

Froese’s stylish illustrations have touches of gentle humour, plenty of detail and pattern making this a book I would definitely recommend adding to primary school collections and the bookshelves of youngsters with an interest in ancient history.

Jane Foster’s Summertime / Whose Boat? / Who?

Jane Foster’s Summertime
Jane Foster
Templar Publishing

What things spring to mind when someone says the word summertime?
Delicious, lip-smacking ice cream? Sunglasses and a floppy hat? Cool juice and some fruit? Flip-flops? Swimming? Sunflowers?

All of those sprang into mine before I opened this delicious slice of the summer season from designer/illustrator Jane Foster. And lo and behold, there they all were plus several others each one being stylishly presented in the artist’s pattern rich style, one per spread,

while the final opening reveals all eleven of the summery icons together.

Her chosen, uplifting colour palette absolutely sings out the joys of the summer season in this cracker of a board book that will delight adult sharers as much as toddlers.

Whose Boat?
Toni Buzzeo and Tom Froese
Abrams Appleseed

This board book is essentially a boat-centric guessing game featuring half a dozen workers and their respective craft.

There’s a patrol boat controlled by the harbourmaster, a tugboat with its pilot,

a car ferry and captain, a fishing boat with a ‘lobsterperson’ (that wording is a little clumsy, I think), a lifeboat and coxswain, a fire boat and firefighter.

An image of each boat with clear labels of parts, is placed on the outside of a gatefold which opens to show the answer to the question, ‘Whose boat is that? Do you know?’’

There’s a fair bit of detail, perhaps more than one might expect for the usual board book audience, but for the vehicle curious young child that’s a plus; for those not ready for all those labels, Tom Froese’s bright, stylised nautical scenes are a good starting point from which little ones can absorb whatever they’re ready for.

A good bet for either home or an early years setting.

For even younger infants is:

Who?
Robie Harris and Natascha Rosenberg
Abrams Appleseed
Diversity is key in this engaging look at babies – ten in all – and the relationships they form.

Babies themselves will enjoy the rhythm of Harris’ playful, repetitive question and answer text, and slightly older infants can participate in the guessing game, joining in with, and responding to, the ‘Who? / Who’s that? ‘ as they become familiar with the various relations – Dada, Mama, Gramma,

and Grampa, as well as the animals and inanimate item.

Natascha Rosennberg’s endearing, but not sickly sweet, portrayals of the loving twos should captivate infants while pleasing adult sharers.

A playful board book that is  likely to be used over and over.