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SECRETS OF THE SPHINX by James Cross Giblin


by James Cross Giblin & illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-590-09847-0
Publisher: Scholastic

A characteristically solid text is accompanied by gorgeous illustrations to tell the life and times, with a few diversions, of the Sphinx. Giblin provides an overview of Egyptian prehistory and burial customs before launching into the building of the monumental statue, always carefully bringing readers up to date on the most current archaeological discoveries and advising readers where current scholarship is still in the dark. He covers the statue’s gradual destruction by time, the elements, and hostile invaders, as well as attempts at restoration in the modern age. Ibatoulline adapts his style admirably to nonfiction, full-bleed gouache-and-watercolor paintings depicting the Sphinx at various moments in its existence, the text’s diversion into crackpot theories that associate the Sphinx with Atlantis providing fodder for more fanciful work. He makes evident the gigantic size of the statue through the striking use of perspective and scale: many tiers of staging support myriad tiny workers against its massive bulk. The author’s enthusiasm for his subject and the stories around it come through clearly, and an annotated bibliography grounds the enthusiasm in fact. (Nonfiction. 9-12)