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The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder



Book Summary Novel Activities Vocabulary Words Writing Activities Discussion Topics Online Test




Book Summary


Melanie Ross and April Hall are two girls you would never expect to form a close friendship. April is an only child from Hollywood who wears false eyelashes, up-swept hair, and a fake-feathered boa wrap. She also has a snooty attitude. Her mother is trying to be an actress and has paid little attention to April over the years. The book begins when April's mother dumps her off with her grandmother for an undetermined amount of time. Melanie, whose family lives in the same building, is down-to-earth and friendly. She likes everyone she meets and comes from a very traditional family—both parents are married and live at home. She has a younger brother, Marshall.

Despite their differences, the two form a friendship based around creativity and imagination. They make up incredible stories and play wildly fantastic games together. They are the ones who begin the Egypt game—a game played in an abandoned lot behind an antique store belonging to a mysterious "professor."

The kids love playing the secret game, but then mysterious things begin happening. They also have to be worried about a serial murderer in the neighborhood whose victims are children their age. The twists and turns in the plot keep the reader turning page after page.


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Novel Activities


1. The apartment house where April and Melanie live has been affectionately nicknamed the “petrified birthday cake.” Draw what you think the Casa Rosada looks like.

2. Look for all the slang words used in The Egypt Game. There are many. Compare them to the slang words used today.

3. Ancient Egyptian writing used more than 2,000 hieroglyphic characters. Each hieroglyph represented a common object in ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphs could represent the sound of the object or an idea associated with the object. Come up with your own Egyptian name and symbol.


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Vocabulary Words


pert haughty pharaoh rituals
fink prostrated brine oracle
pilgrimage indignantly alibi seclusion


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Writing Activities


Sensory/Descriptive: April is baby-sitting Marshall when she realizes she has left her math book at "Egypt" when they were there earlier in the day. Against her better judgment, she decides to take Marshall and retrieve her book at night. Just after finding her book and starting on the way back home, April is attacked. Go back and reread this scene in the chapter, "Fear Strikes." Consider how April is feeling before, during, and after the attack on her life. Then, write an essay about April's feelings and actions/reactions over the course of this evening.


Imaginative/Narrative: Melanie and April like to cut out pictures of people from magazines and then write and tell stories about them. Cut out pictures of at least three people from a magazine. Then, write a story about them.


Analytical/Persuasive: The Egypt Game was written in the 1960s. Compare and contrast how things from that era are similar and different from today. Use specific examples from your life and from The Egypt Game. Some ideas to get you started include school studies, teachers, slang words, levels of trust, families, fun activities, and friends.


Practical/Informative: April, Melanie, and Marshall were often out alone without a grown-up along. Do you think they always made good choices to keep themselves safe? With a serial killer on the loose and warnings from their parents, April made an especially poor choice when she decided to take Marshall with her to "Egypt" at night. What happened next could have cost April her life. What are important ways to stay safe? You can help other kids make good choices. Create a safety guide for kids. Include specific safety tips, the reasoning behind them, and real life examples.


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Discussion/Journal Topics


Chapter One: “There were dozens of children in the neighborhood, boys and girls of every size and style and color, some of whom could speak more than one language when they wanted to. But in their schools and on the streets they all seemed to speak the same language and have a number of things in common.”

Chapter Eight: “As the days passed and no arrests were made, fear and suspicion grew and spread in all directions; and a great silence began to settle over Orchard Avenue and the streets and alleys on either side.”

Chapter Thirteen: “On Thursday afternoon, the three girls picked up Marshall at his nursery school and hurried to Egypt. They had just one day to spend there in peace and quiet before the coming of the ‘outsiders’.”

Chapter Nineteen: “Lie to you!” Toby said. “I did not. I didn’t lie once. I just gave the wrong impression. There is a difference.”


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Online Test


Your students can take an online test with immediate results at:

The Egypt Game Online Test


The Professional Development Institute has a complete literature unit for this novel. For more information, click the link below.

The Egypt Game Literature Unit (Check out the sample pages!)


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