THE WINGED CAT: A Tale of Ancient Egypt by Deborah Nourse Lattimore

THE WINGED CAT: A Tale of Ancient Egypt

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Merit, temple servant, has seen Waha, Pharaoh's High Priest, drown a sacred cat. When Waha denies his crime, Pharaoh sends him and Merit to the Netherworld, where their hearts will be weighed against the feather of Truth. The dead cat's spirit guides Merit, assuring her safety if she can read the signs that open the Netherworld's 12 gates. Lacking her skill, Waha throws effigies into the jaws of the waiting monsters, but the golden amulet he offers is far heavier than the feather and he is devoured. The cat is given another life, and Pharaoh rewards Merit. The illustrations here--in shades of green, blue, gold, and brown against backgrounds brushed to look like papyrus or linen--are sumptuous, filled with hieroglyphics and ancient Egyptian symbols and decorative motifs. But the pictures' elegance is not matched by Lattimore's original story, which is rather muddled and sometimes arbitrary--e.g., the golden amulet that outweighs Truth was earlier described as floating in a river, and it's not clear why a serving girl can read but the High Priest can't. Like some of Lattimore's other earnest attempts to mine the past, a mixed effort.

Pub Date: May 30th, 1992
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: HarperCollins