Paton Walsh (Matthew and the Sea Singer, 1993, etc.) skillfully synthesizes scary situations, comic twists, and the secret code in an exotic setting radiating from the past. Pepi's father has been ordered to paint the necessary pictures on the walls of Prince Dhutmose's tomb. When it is time to paint a lion, Pepi, who knows that his father works best when painting from life, goes out to the desert and forces a lion to come to the tomb by guessing its secret name (the name is written in the text as hieroglyphics). By the same process, Pepi brings in other dangerous animals -- a hawk, a crocodile, a snake. The story is constructed in the style of a folktale -- the first day, second day, third day theme and variations -- with elegant loops in the plot, all tied together at the end. An epilogue follows, explaining the principles of hieroglyphic writing and decoding the animals' names. The stylized illustrations are imitations of Egyptian tomb paintings; enclosed in elaborate decorative borders, they depict miniature people and enormous animals sprawled out across intricately detailed spreads.