Family Beat: Reading is FundamentalStep back in time with explorers’ journals from Sands and Drake “Egyptology: Search for the Tomb of Osiris” By Emily Sands Publisher: Candlewick Press; November 2004 ISBN: 0-763-62638-4; hardcover, 32 pages; $19.99 Appropriate for children ages 8 and older “Dr. Ernest Drake’s Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons” By Earnest Drake Publisher: Candlewick Press; November 2003 ISBN: 0-763-62329-6; hardcover, 32 pages; $19.99 Appropriate for children ages 8 and older I’ve always loved reading travel journals, compilations of ship’s logs and adventure memoirs — learning of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated arctic expedition on the Endurance, Captain Cook’s ill-fated journeys in the South Pacific and Amelia Earhart’s ill-fated flight around the world. These are merely some of the dramatic figures who risked life and limb for the sake of learning, sharing their knowledge and testing their strength, will and the world’s newest technologies against nature. Their journals and travel logs make for fascinating reading, give us insight into the spirit of an explorer and introduce us to a world less familiar. Of course, many adventurers lived happily ever after and died well into their dotage. But who can resist a good mystery? Earhart remains as compelling a figure now as during her glory days in the 1930s, and nobody is really sure what prompted the Hawaiians to turn Cook into a nautical martyr … and such puzzles launch the imagination. As a homage to the golden days of discovery, the fine folks at Candlewick Press have just released “Egyptology: Search for the Tomb of Osiris,” a new “discovery” in the vein of the company’s wildly popular, award-winning “Dragonology,” published last year. In this lavishly-illustrated fictional adventure journal, children will learn of the vivacious Miss Emily Sands, who in 1926 — four years after the discovery of King Tut's tomb and during the height of Egyptomania — led an expedition up the Nile in search of the tomb of the god Osiris. Alas, Miss Sands and her intrepid crew vanished into the desert, never to be seen again — but her keen observations live on in the form of a “newly recovered” descriptive journal of her travels and discoveries. Sands’ scrapbook is chockfull of drawings, photographs, foldout maps, postcards, an ancient board game, a scrap of “mummy cloth,” an instructional booklet to deciphering hieroglyphs and an amulet. The book and its “artifacts” introduce children to the ways in which information was analyzed, classified and shared in the days before carbon dating, digital cameras and the Internet. “Egyptology” is also rich in factual information about life in ancient Egypt and entertainingly peppered with Sands' lively, chatty narration. It concludes with a letter from the “former Keeper of Antiquities at the British Museum,” explaining which parts of this unique tale may be accepted as fact, which are guided by legend and which reflect the author's sense of fancy. As with “Dragonology” — which shared the fictional “long-lost,” and quite eccentric, research journals of renowned 19th century dragonologist, Dr. Ernest Drake — “Egyptology” nourishes the imagination and encourages wonder and discovery. The books are also excellent examples for parents wanting to introduce children to the process of journal writing or keeping a scrapbook or travel log. Lani Stack is a former preschool teacher and an avid reader who keeps meaning to begin her own journals, scrapbooks and travel logs.
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