The Egypt Game Book Poster Image

The Egypt Game



Newbery Honor book is a fun mystery romp.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Even with a murderer in their midst, the issue of someone who is hurting children is treated with compassion. The culprit is described as being "sick." There is some miscarriage of justice when a hermit is suspected and the neighborhood turns against him.


Two murders of kids occur in the book with little explanation or detail. Another child experiences an attempted abduction; she is grabbed and fights her attacker, then rescued. A child threatens to punch classmates. Mention of a pet killed by another pet.


In this book the kids are still in the "Ewww..." phase when it comes to the opposite sex.


There is nothing in this book harsher than a "Sheesh!"


Neighborhood stores are mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that two children are murdered in this story. The murders aren't described, but the other kids are aware of the events. There is also an attempted child abduction. The information is given and explained in real, yet age-appropriate fashion. The main kid characters, fascinated with ancient Egypt, act out all types of rituals including mummification of a dead pet, god worship, chanting, and the use of oracles.

What's the story?

April is sent to live with her grandmother while her mother tours with a band. Angry, lonely, and determined that her stay will be a short one, April reluctantly makes friends with Melanie, another girl in the apartment building. April soon realizes that she and Melanie have a great deal in common, including an interest in the ancient Egyptians. When horrible and mysterious things start happening, the Egypt gang wonder who or what is causing it and if the events are connected.

Is it any good?


EGYPT GAME is a fun, scary, and exciting story at times; at other times the book is a bit slow. Snyder does a great job getting readers to care about the characters. We want to know if April Hall will ever warm up to her grandma and if Marshall Ross will ever give up his stuffed octopus "Security." Will Melanie Ross be able to get the kids at school to understand April's eccentric personality?

Kids will like how Snyder captures the preteen disgust and teasing that accompanies boy/girl relations and how she draws readers into the Egyptian world the gamers create with found objects and their imaginations. Then their world is disrupted by a very adult and tragic event -- the murder of a neighborhood child -- the second in as many years. Of course there are plenty of suspicious characters. And of course the kids are immediately drawn in to the mystery, just as readers will be.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the religion of other cultures, especially the rituals and rites of ancient Egypt. They can also discuss safety issues. What things can they do to stay safe? What can they do if they are ever attacked?

Book details

Author:Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Illustrator:Alton Raible
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Yearling Books
Publication date:December 1, 1985
Number of pages:215
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Award:Newbery Medal and Honors

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Parent of a 11 year old Written byMomInNJ March 16, 2011

Violence a little too realistic

This book has both implied and graphic violence, which doesn't add to the plotline or intrigue. Two children have been murdered in the local neighborhood, with one girl's boy described as having been found in a shallow marsh. Later in the story, a girl is assaulted with a first-person description of the feeling of fingers around her throat and air being crushed out of her lungs. What's worse is the incidental violence... one child's cherished pet parakeet is killed when a neighbor's cat breaks into the house... so the kids decide to mummify it by soaking it in brine. There's discussion of ritual sacrifices and how people used to cut off their own fingers. At the very end, the "hero" elderly Professor tells the children how his late wife was murdered by locals in a political uprising while on a charitable mission in a foreign country-- which adds nothing to the storyline except more horror. Maybe this book would be OK for older kids 14+, but not any younger. The violence is too realistic.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 10 years old September 19, 2010

High expectations...

The Egypt Game caught my eye when my AIG teacher was doing Literature Circle and I picked this book. Hearing talk of it before, it sounded fabulous. Not quite. The book didn't live up to my expectations because for one, it promised a mystery, yet didn't provide near what I look for in a mystery book. It lead to interesting conversation and discussion with my fellow classmates, and I loved the use of Egyptian culture. It left me thinking after I read it, and altogether, was a quite good book, just not exactly what it was described as being.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educational value
Teen, 14 years old Written bymkalv February 26, 2009

Not much of a mystery.

I must say, after all the hype for this book, it turns out that the mystery is pretty lame, like the book itself.