7 Great Children’s Books linked to Ancient Egypt

I really enjoyed putting together this list for Booktrust of 7 incredible books for children learning about Ancient Egypt. Four of them are fiction and three are non-fiction. I won’t paste the whole thing here, but please do follow the link above for my reviews of all seven books.

I’ve been doing lots of World Book Day events these last two weeks, talking to children about the amazing Egyptological anniversaries coming up this year (200 years since the cracking of hieroglyphs and 100 years since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb). Some of them are going to be doing THE ANCIENT EGYPT SLEEPOVER as their next whole-class read.

Teacher Paul Watson reviewed the book on his Great British Bookworm blog recently. He wrote:

Heist stories are always thrilling, and this one is no exception. Mo and his friends find themselves in a situation in which the adults are useless and the peril they face is very real. Stephen Davies does a great job at making the story rattle along at a good pace, while developing characters at the same time.

My hope is that THE ANCIENT EGYPT SLEEPOVER becomes the go-to book for KS2 teachers studying Ancient Egypt with their classes. If your class is reading my book and you have any questions for me, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The Ancient Egypt Sleepover is out now!

Happy new year, friends. Here’s hoping it’s a good one for you all.

I’m pleased to say that my new book The Ancient Egypt Sleepover is out now. It was published on 1 January 2022 by Caboodle Books, the publishing arm of Authors Abroad.

You can buy the book in any of the usual ways, including on Amazon, but if you would like a signed and personalized first edition (for £6.00 plus p&p), please drop me a line at sahelsteve@gmail.com

Here is the dedicated page on my website for finding out more about The Ancient Egypt Sleepover. And here is Scott Evans, the Reader Teacher, talking about the book in his January 2022 roundup of ‘children’s books I’m most excited about’.


Héloïse Mab is a super-talented French illustrator based in Bristol. She did the artwork for the front and back covers of my new book The Ancient Egypt Sleepover, which is now available for pre-order.

The front cover was inspired in part by the photo below, taken by photographer Benedict Johnson at one of the British Museum’s real sleepover events.

© Benedict Johnson, reproduced here with permission

Benedict’s photo shows three children beneath an imposing statue of the pharaoh Amenhotep III, one of two colossal busts in the British Museum’s collection. Now you can see why the head on the cover of the book only has one ear. It’s not a mistake!

Podkin Amenhotep One-Ear

You can see the Amenhotep III colossus in the British Museum’s collection here. That massive closed fist belonged to the same statue, and is listed in the collection here.

On the far left of Benedict’s photo are four seated and standing statues of the goddess Sekhmet from the mortuary temple of Amenhotep. She was the goddess of destruction and was usually depicted in the form of a lion. Sekhmet’s nicknames include ‘Mistress of Dread’, ‘Lady of Slaughter’ and ‘She Who Mauls’. Sounds like someone you’d want to keep happy, right?

© The Trustees of The British Museum

Amenhotep III wanted to keep Sekhmet happy, too. That’s why he had 365 seated statues of Sekhmet and 365 standing statues of Sekhmet put in his mortuary temple – people could sacrifice to a different one every day of the year. The four statues in the British Museum are listed in the online collection here.

Héloïse has included Sekhmet among the statues on the cover of THE ANCIENT EGYPT SLEEPOVER. As for the running boy in the centre, he is the main character in the story. His name is Muhammed, or Mo for short. Like the children in Benedict’s fab photo, Mo isn’t going to get much sleep at this sleepover!

THE ANCIENT EGYPT SLEEPOVER comes out in January 2022, published by Caboodle Books. Pre-order now.

Illustrator Héloïse Mab’s website

Photographer Benedict Johnson’s website

© Héloïse Mab

Treasures of Ancient Egypt Day 23: Tutankhamun’s Ostrich Feather Fan

You probably feel sad or angry at the thought of hunting ostriches, but for Ancient Egyptians it was a great sport. Ostriches run at speeds up to 45 miles per hour, and people loved zooming after them in their chariots.

The centre of Tutankhamun’s fan was a semicircle of gold, and there would have been ostrich feathers all around the curved edge. The picture on the fan shows Tutankhamun in his chariot, hunting an ostrich.

Notice Tutankhamun’s throne name Neb-kheperu-re in the cartouche in the top right corner, and the jaunty ankh symbol striding along in the bottom left corner. Amusingly, the ankh is also holding an ostrich feather fan!

Treasures of Ancient Egypt Day 22: The Anubis Shrine

There were five rooms in Tutankhamun’s tomb – the antechamber (containing the funeral beds, chariot parts, mannequin and other treasures), the annexe, the burial chamber and the treasury.

The treasury was the last room to be catalogued and photographed. Carter and his colleagues did not get to it until 1926, four whole years after the first discovery of the tomb!

The most striking piece of treasure in the treasury was this shrine with a statue of Anubis on top. It is made of wood and painted black. The ears, eyebrows, eye outlines and collar are all made of gold. The whites of the eyes are made from calcite and the pupils are obsidian. The claws are made of silver. What an amazing piece of craftsmanship!

Treasures of Ancient Egypt Day 21: Mannequin of the Boy King

I love this mannequin. It’s so simple and inexpensive compared to most of the bling which surrounded it in the first chamber of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Our best guess is that it was used as a dummy for storing the boy king’s many elaborate pectorals (a pectoral is an ornamental breastplate, like the Necklace of the Sun on the Eastern Horizon which we looked at on Day 12).

The mannequin (or mannikin, as Howard Carter spells it) is a life-sized model of Tutankhamun from the waist up, wearing a white linen tunic and a yellow flat-topped crown. It was ‘peering out’ from among the golden chariot parts when Carter first looked into the tomb on 26 November 1922. Here it is in his own handwriting, part of his diary entry that day:


Here is the mannequin being carried out of the tomb to a storeroom where it could be examined and catalogued.

from the Harry Burton photo archive

And here it is in the storeroom.

from the Harry Burton photo archive

And here is a newspaper article by Howard Carter describing how he found the tomb. There’s that mannequin again, peering out from the sepia page at thousands of eager readers.

The black and red cobra on the front of the crown depicts the goddess Wadjet. You wouldn’t mess with someone who had a cobra goddess on their head, would you?

Treasures of Ancient Egypt Day 20: Ankh-shaped mirror case

Anubis holding ankh symbol – Wikimedia Commons

Tutankhamun’s beautiful mirror case was in the shape of an ‘ankh’ hieroglyph. ‘Ankh’ meant life, and it also meant mirror, so the object itself is basically a pun.

In Ancient Egypt, people believed that life was a powerful force swirling through all the world. They believed that life was given by the gods, which is why you often see pictures and statues of Egyptian gods holding the ‘ankh’ symbol.

Ancient Egyptians used the word ‘ankh’ a great deal in everyday conversation. Their phrase for ‘please’ was ‘May you be healthy and alive!’

Tutanhkhamun’s throne name ‘Nebkheperure’ is part of the decoration inside the loop of the ankh on the mirror case. Can you spot it? If you missed Day 13 of this series, on how to write Tutankhamun’s names in hieroglyphs, you should have a quick read of that first.