My last review for the week features another story with a strong female lead – this time set in Ancient Egypt. Hawes has taken an ancient Egyptian tale and adapted and expanded it for modern audiences to create a story about the importance of familial love and standing up for what you value the most.
Muti treasures the necklace her father made for her when she was born, carved from turquoise, “blue as a dragonfly’s wing” and carnelian, “red as the inside of a pomegranate.” When she turns thirteen, she goes to work at the palace for the pharaoh who is impressed by her strength and grace, and makes her the head rower for his pleasure boat. But one day Muti’s necklace breaks and falls into the water and she refuses to continue rowing – risking the wrath of Pharaoh Snefru – or accept a replacement, no matter how beautiful or large, since she prefers her own necklace to any other. Her determination and courage to stand up for what she treasures the most impress the pharaoh, so much so that he falls in love and wishes to make her his queen. But be warned – this retelling offers a refreshing change from the usual matrimonial reward for plucky, stouthearted heroines. Muti, after all, prefers her own simple life and family to any other, “no matter how fine.”
Hawes’ prose is clear and evocative and Guay’s rich full-page watercolor and gouache paintings are lush, dramatic and just beautiful to look at. The endnote explains the differences between Hawes’ version and the Egyptian original.
Check the WRL catalog for Muti’s Necklace.