* I received a free copy of Tombquest Book of the Dead from Scholastic in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
Fans of The 39 Clues, the Infinity Ring series, and the Spirit Animals series, heads up! Scholastic (one of my favorite and the world’s largest publishers of children’s books is at it again in a brand new series that is going to have young readers hopping in 2015. I was super excited to get to read the first book in the new Tombquest series, called Book of the Dead, which you will find on bookshelves in just THREE days (January 27, 2015). But just to get you even more excited, check out the book trailer…Pretty awesome, huh!
About Tombquest Book of the Dead
Alex Sennefer’s mom uses the Lost Spells of the Egyptian Book of the Dead to crack open a door to the afterlife and pull her son back from the brink of death. But when she uses the spells, five evil ancients–the Death Walkers–are also brought back to life. Mummies are awakening. New York is overrun with scorpions. And worst of all for Alex, his mom and the Lost Spells have both disappeared. He and his best friend, Ren, will do anything to find his mom and save the world!
I loved this book as an adult, and I have no doubt that my two girls (both fans of 39 clues) will be huge fans, even though my older daughter is 13! When I was recently in New York, I took selfies in the Egyptian area of the Met, where a good portion of Book of the Dead takes place, and sent them to her…the replies were unkind (as unkind goes for 13 year olds). I pretty much know that after reading this book, I’m going to have to make a trek in from Western NY to take the girls to the Met. This is the kind of book that sparks kids imaginations, and can get them interested in some serious history – which as a mom and former teacher, I love.
Attention – skip to the next section if you want to miss a few little spoilers (don’t worry I won’t give it all away!)
I think the book is correctly aged at 3rd-6th grade, but I think older students (and adults!) will enjoy as a quick read. I love how Alex begins the book suffering from an illness…I think children who are chronically ill would see Alex as a hero! He is “cured” by his (single) mother’s use of the scrolls, but I’m interested to see how this plays out in further books. Ren also isn’t the “perfect” character – she speaks of working extra hard at school, and having a hard-working dad who spoke only Spanish at home growing up, but put himself through engineering school. I love to see this type of diversity in main characters, and I hope this continues as characters get added to the books.
In terms of plot line and character development, I think Book of the Dead deserves five stars. There is a build up at the beginning of the book, but it doesn’t drag and once the action gets started, it goes full-speed towards a harrowing conclusion. There is definitely a “hook” at the end, but Michael Northrup did a masterful job of creating an ending that is both satisfying, but leaves you wanting more. It is a first class start to what I’m sure is going to be another hit series!
The Tombquest Game
As you saw in the book trailer, there is an accompanying game that kids can play online that goes along with the book series. I didn’t play too, long, but setting up an account was really easy and fairly kid friendly…here I am…
Tombquest Teacher Resources
One of the great things about Scholastic is that they do such an amazing job supporting teachers (and homeschooling parents)! And their roll out of the new Tombquest series is no exception. You don’t have to go hunting for Tombquest Book of the Dead teaching activities or make up your own – Scholastic has a lot of great resources already prepared for you that are aligned and meet the Common Core State Standards for Grades 3-6!
Using Book of the Dead as a book club book? Check out the Tombquest Book of the Dead Discussion Guide. How about some awesome Tombquest videos featuring the awesome author, Michael Northrup doling out facts on Ancient Egypt? Or how about some fun Book of the Dead activity sheets (great for morning work!)? The best part is that all of these resources are completely FREE – just check out Scholastic’s webpage for teachers using Tombquest in the classroom!