A Friend Is Forever: Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert
WINDS HISS OVER DESERT SAND
THE MOON SHINES DOWN ON EMPTY LAND.
AND LONG AGO......THE PHARAOHS HID
THEIR TREASURES IN THIS PYRAMID.
DEEP WITHIN THIS MAZE OF STONE
A CREATURE WAKES UP ALL ALONE.
FOR THE FIRST TIME
IN A HUNDRED YEARS
HE SHAKES OFF DUST.
HE FLICKS HIS EARS.
With the rustle of his wrappings, a mummy cat cat arises from his case and sets off through the chambers of a pyramid, hoping that this will be the once-a-century night that both he and his mistress, the girl-queen Hat-shup-set, are reunited.
OLD AND SMALL,
HE SHUFFLES SLOWLY DOWN THE HALL.
Followed by a retinue of three mice, the royal cat begins to purr as he sees the paintings of happy days with his girl-queen, floating on the Nile, napping in her lap on their golden couch in the shade of palms, posing for Hat-shup-set's drawings as her sister kneels before a writing desk.
But all the memories are not happy, as he views the mural of his death with Hat-shup-set, both victims of a deadly scorpion's sting.
AN END TO DANCES, GAMES AND FEASTS:
TWO SMALL BODIES WRAPPED BY PRIESTS.
Hopefully, Mummy Cat enters the queen's burial chamber, where all her favorite things are arrayed around her sarcophagus.
THIS COLD GOLDEN COFFIN--IS THIS ALL HE GETS?
WHERE IS THE GIRL HE CAN NEVER FORGET?
There is at last the happy, long-hoped-for reunion for the queen and her purring pet, in Marcus Ewert's just published Mummy Cat (Houghton Mifflin Clarion, 2015), a sweet ending for the youngest readers. And for the older reader, there is another dimension of Mummy Cat's story. Told in hieroglyphs shown in thought bubbles and labels in the wall paintings is the backstory of the Hat-shup-set's envious sister, whose jealousy leads her to capture and release the fatal scorpion which ends her sister's reign and the life of the brave cat who tries to save her. It is a mystery of an ancient murder revealed and just desserts duly dispensed. Artist Lisa Brown's glowing illustrations tell the story beautifully through detailed drawings done in shadowy shades of gray and tarnished gold which evoke the ghostly presence of evil vengeance, as well as the joyous centennial reunion in which the cat's sad hieroglyphic ME-OW awakens his queen.
An appended author's note, "Mummies, Cats, Queens, and Hieroglyphs," and a table of hieroglyphs appearing in the story give older readers a chance to decode the clues to the whole story which dot the illustrations. This is a layered story which can be read on a dual level with much to intrigue cat-loving youngsters and budding Egyptologists with an ancient story of crime and punishment.