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The Egypt Game: Summary & Characters

Instructor: Audrey Farley

Audrey is a doctoral student in English at University of Maryland.

''The Egypt Game'' by Zilpha Keatley Snyder is about six kids who invent an elaborate on-going imaginative game based around their interest of ancient Egypt. In this lesson, we will look at the plot summary and the main characters of this award winning novel.

The Egypt Game

The Egypt Game, first published in 1967, was written by Zilpha Keatley Snyder and illustrated by Alton Raible. In 1968, it was awarded the Newbery Honor as one of the best children's books of 1967. The book is about a group of children who create an on-going imaginative game in which they share their love of ancient Egypt. The six main characters in the novel are loosely based on the author's former elementary school students.

Main Characters

April Hall is the daughter of a professional singer. At the beginning of the novel, she is sent to live with her grandmother in a California college town.

Melanie Ross lives in the apartment building that April has moved into. She, like April, is 11 years old.

Marshall Ross is 4 years old and is Melanie's younger brother. He is never without his stuffed octopus named Security.

Elizabeth Chung moves into the apartment building with her mother and two younger sisters. She is 9 years old.

Ken Kamata and Toby Alvillar are the last two members to join the game and are classmates of April and Melanie.

New In Town

April Hall moved to a new town in California to live with her grandmother because her mother, as a professional singer, needed to travel too much to take April with her. Having just come from Hollywood, and wanting to be like her mother, April took pride in dressing 'fashionably.'

April's grandmother suggested that April meet Melanie, who lived downstairs, since they were the same age and would both be entering 6th grade the next month when summer was over. When Melanie first met April, April was wearing high heels, a fluffy fur stole around her shoulders and fake eyelashes. Melanie had never seen anything like it. However, the two girls quickly realize that they both love to read, and when April discovers Melanie's 'imagining game,' the beginning of the Egypt Game is not far behind.

Abandoned Storage Yard

One day in August shortly after they had met, April found a book on Egypt at the library and the girls were hooked. April and Melanie were fascinated by ancient Egypt. They met almost daily to read more about ancient Egypt. They researched rituals and cultural practices and even began developing their own alphabet of hieroglyphics. Marshall, very mature and intelligent for a four year old, is always present and sometimes even an active participant. But it was not until early September, when the start of school was only a couple of days away, that the Egypt Game began.

Walking home through an alley one day, April, Melanie and Marshall find an abandoned storage yard behind an old antiques shop. By sneaking through a loose board in the fence, they can access the yard, and when, on that first day, they find a bust of Nefertiti, an Egyptian queen, this secret space becomes their Egypt. Using materials they find in the abandoned yard, as well as discarded materials they find in the shops around the yard, the group turns the abandoned yard into Egypt to include a temple for Nefertiti. They do all of this discreetly, not wanting to be seen by the antiques shop owner, a strange old man that goes by the nickname Professor.

School Begins

When school begins, the children continue their game in the afternoons. When Elizabeth Chung moves into the apartment complex, April and Melanie agree not to let her know about the Egypt game because she might fink, meaning tell on them. However, Elizabeth was hard not to like and when April sees that Elizabeth's profile looks just like Nefertiti, they knew she had to be invited into the game.

The Egypt Game is going well until the town is suddenly upset by a violent crime. A child is murdered, and the townsfolk begin to accuse the Professor, citing his strange behaviors. The Professor has no alibi since he lives alone. The children's parents force them to play indoors for their safety. But on Halloween, when they are outside trick-or-treating, the kids sneak off to the storage yard. Two classmates, Ken Kamata and Toby Alvillar, stumble upon them. The girls invite these two to join their game, because they worry that, otherwise, the boys might alert adults about their play.

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