ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Egypt Game, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Updated on August 24, 2015

I devoured Zilpha Keatley Snyder's books when I was a child, and would go back and reread them frequently. When I was a young teenager, the administrative librarian of the library where my mom worked asked me who my favorite author was. I answered "Zilpha Keatley Snyder." So it has been a real joy to begin my project of rereading and reviewing her books.

"The Egypt Game" is the story of April Hall. April's mother, Dorothea Dawn, is an obscure singer who is building an acting career as well. Dorothea's career has begun to take off, so she shipped April off to live with Caroline, the mother of April's now-deceased father. April excels at keeping her paternal grandmother at arms' length. For example, she insists on calling her "Caroline," rather than "Grandma." April also feigns an adult sophistication that she doesn't actually have, putting her hair up in a clumsily executed upswept hairdo and wearing badly applied false eyelashes.

April's saving grace, and the thing that bonds her to her new best friend, Melanie, is her vivid imagination. She and Melanie play all sorts of imaginative games. One day they see that the fence to the storage yard of the secondhand store in the neighborhood has a loose board. They slide the board aside and discover a treasure trove of interesting things, including a chipped copy of the famous head of Nefertiti from the New Museum in Berlin (see the image below the picture of the cover of the book). They dub the head "Isis," and soon they have developed a whole realm of Egypt within that storage yard.

Melanie's ever-present younger brother Marshall is with them when they begin the realm of Egypt, and soon another little girl from their building, Elizabeth, has joined them. Some other additions to their group are made later.

The kids take Egyptian names, learn hieroglyphics (since hieroglyphics were usually written in bright colors, this necessitates a break in their time in Egypt so that they can save up the money for colored pencils), and even mummify Elizabeth's deceased parakeet.

The edition that I own has a foreword in which Snyder says that this book is semiautobiographical. She was working as a teacher (as Melanie's mother does) while her husband was attending grad school at Berkeley (as Melanie's father is). The kids are based loosely on students she taught in her multiethnic neighborhood. Her daughter was the source for some of this book as well, since she attempted to mummify her own parakeet during her own childhood.

When I began my reread, I thought that "The Egypt Game" which was written in 1967, was truly an artifact of a previous era. The kids run around the neighborhood seemingly unsupervised a lot of the time, but then something shocking happens, and even though I read this book when I was younger, I didn't remember that plot development.

"The Egypt Game" ends with April asking Melanie a question. This question remains unanswered for 30 years. I can just imagine that one question hanging in the air for all of those decades until Melanie answers it. The answer comes in Snyder's 1997 novel "The Gypsy Game", which is on my list, but, as of this writing, I haven't read it yet. It should be interesting to see how Snyder's writing and perspective have changed in the meantime.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)