The Red Pyramid: The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan, Hyperion Books CH, 2010, 528 pp, ISBN: 1423113381
I have been waiting for a book like this one forEVER! As many of you know, I spent the last four years teaching 6th grade Humanities. This basically means that I had around 80 minutes a day to organically combine and teach all of the 6th grade Language Arts skills and all of the 6th grade Social Studies content. That is really a lot of info to smash into 80 minutes, while still maintaining a fun and creative classroom. The best method that I found for teaching both subjects in one block was to do a lot of reading: both primary sources and historical fiction.
(side note: If you know any other awesome Egyptian books, PLEASE send me your recommendations!) Now I am almost wishing that I were back in the classroom, just so that I could use my new literary love: The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan.
The Red Pyramid is pretty similar to Riordan's Percy Jackson series in that it's a fast-paced fantasy, featuring a cast of ancient gods and some spunky tween-agers on a quest. In this first volume of the Kane Chronicles, estranged siblings Carter and Sadie must work together to save their father, the famed Egyptologist Julius Kane; defeat Set, an evil, power-hungry god; restore order to the House of Life; and basically... save the world.
Sadie and Carter take turns narrating their adventure through alternating chapters, giving the reader a more in-depth view of each character. While I liked Carter - a slightly geeky, well-traveled, mini-expert on Egyptology - I found myself favoring his pink-haired, combat boot wearing younger sister. She just added a little more spice to the story.
As the adventure unfolded, Sadie, Carter, and the various gods and goddesses were a constant source of information on ancient Egypt. They described so many different aspects of Egyptian culture that I had worked to teach my students: how to read hieroglyphics, the red and black land around the Nile, Egyptian superstitions, the relationships between different gods, and how the Egyptian civilization is still a foundation for much of today's architecture and traditions. This book is really a classroom gem!
I only have two minor complaints. First, at 528 pages, The Red Pyramid is pretty darn long. If a teacher really wanted to use this text in the classroom, he/she would have to plan very carefully to ensure that the students were able to read the whole thing. Second, I wish that more of the book had actually taken place in Egypt. It just seems like setting so much of the story in America created a kind of missed opportunity for kids to learn more about the actual country of Egypt.
All things considered, The Red Pyramid is a fantastic read! I only wish it could have been written a few years earlier :)
If you are an educator looking to use this book with your kiddos, Rick Riordan's website offers "The Greatest Hits of Egyptian Mythology," information on Egyptian magic, links to Egyptian crafts and games, and a truly fabulous set of materials for educators using The Red Pyramid. Looking for even more information? Check out this Kane Chronicles wiki!