'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Review: The Jewel Fish of Karnack

Jackal and Ibis are petty thieves who steal a trinket from the marketplace of Asyut in Ancient Egypt. Caught red-handed, they are taken to the Cat Pharaoh who promises them pardon if they travel to Karnak in search of the Jewel Fish once stolen from the Pharaoh by the Crocodile Prince.

Keen to escape punishment, the two head off for Karnak and quite quickly find the Jewel Fish amongst the considerable treasure of the Crocodile Prince.

Of course, being quite stupid and greedy thieves, the duo fail to heed the Pharaoh's warning, and snaffle some extra treasure for themselves. Not only that, they are chased to the river by the Crocodile Prince whereupon the be-sacked Jewel Fish gets... wet. Another warning from Pharaoh they failed to heed.

A wet Jewel Fish, as Jackal and Ibis soon discover, is not a good thing, and the look on the thieves' faces as they realise they've really mucked things up this time, is... priceless.

I love the ending in this book, I love the blending of ancient lore with modern humour. I love the way Base has used hieroglyphic tablets along the bottom of each page to mimic the story as though each scene was once found in an ancient Egyptian children's library.

I love the emotive faces on Ibis and Jackal, I love the humour and warmth - and of course, it goes without saying that I love the astonishing illustrations, as bejewelled and beautiful as the cave of the Crocodile Prince.

As with many of Base's latest books, children have the opportunity to further this fabulous tale online - at www.graemebase.com - where kids must do some seriously fun seeking and finding to earn their reward.

The back of the book also holds a curiosity - a beautiful turn-the-wheel and change the colours Jewel Fish that kids will enjoy rotating, post-reading.

Base at his best.

Title: The Jewel Fish of Karnack
Author/Illustrator: Graeme Base
Publisher: Viking, $29.95 RRP
Publication Date: 3 October 2011
Format: Hard cover with dust jacket
ISBN: 9780670074679
For ages: 5 -12
Type: Picture book