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The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

The Golden Goblet (1961)

by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

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1,720115,929 (3.71)19



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Kirkus Reviews

"An exhilarating story of the arduous fulfillment of a boy's dream . . . We are given a most worthy hero in Ranofer, one who struggles with his own fears and ideals, who smarts under his own cowardice, but who finds the power to rise to his own strength. This plus the vividly detailed setting make the book an excellent choice."
  MBacon | Nov 19, 2017 |
This Newbery Honor book is part of the 6th grade curriculum in my kids' district, and my now-7th-grader wanted me to read it too. (FWIW, it was his second favorite assigned book in 6th grade--The Phantom Tollbooth was #1.)

Ranofer, recently orphaned, is now living with and working for his much older half brother Gebu. With his goldsmith father's death went his dreams of being apprenticed to one of the master goldsmiths in ancient Thebes. Gebu is a bully, and is not good to Ranofer. Can Ranofer solve the mystery of Gebu's nighttime forays? And can he find a way to be an apprentice goldsmith?

This novel has good middle-grade pacing, and lots of age appropriate information on Ancient Egypt. ( )
  Dreesie | Apr 12, 2016 |
In sixth grade, this was the worst book I'd ever read. ( )
  imagine15 | Mar 15, 2016 |
I love historical fiction and was prepared to like this but I was disappointed. There are many interesting historical facts but the pace was too slow until the very end and the humor fell flat. ( )
  YAbookfest | May 11, 2014 |
This was probably one of my top ten favorite books when I was a kid. When I started interning at the local Egyptian museum earlier this year, I decided to re-read it since teachers were still using it during their Ancient Egypt units, and kids would mention it when I led school tours. I was also curious to see how well the book has held up over the years – will I still enjoy it as an adult?

Ranofer is a porter in a goldsmith’s shop, lowlier than even the apprentices. More than anything, he wishes to become a goldsmith, too – but after the death of his parents, his older half-brother Gebu refused to pay for his training. When small amounts of gold goes missing from the shop, Ranofer suspects his brother is involved. When he confronts, Gebu, his brother retaliates by pulling Ranofer from the goldsmith’s and forcing him to work in Gebu’s stonecutting workshop instead. Soon, Ranofer suspects that his brother is still stealing, but instead of targeting goldsmiths he has picked a far greater prize: the tombs of the dead!

It’s been at least fifteen years since I last read this book, but I think I enjoyed it just as much as I did back then. McGraw’s writing transports the reader right back into Ancient Egypt – and unlike most of the books I’ve read, which tend to hover around the royal families and their glamorous lives in the palaces, the story is about the people in the middle class. She creates a very clear image of life in the workshops of the artisans who created goods for the tombs of the wealthy elite, from the lowly papyrus maker to goldsmiths who work for the Queen herself.

She also does a wonderful job of explaining the religious beliefs of the peasant classes. Egyptian cosmology is confusing, and the magic rituals and ceremonies recorded by priests and scribes in fancy temples were probably not used by those of humbler origin. Ranofer knows a few of the key gods that affect his life, and at times he can be quite superstitious, and for a boy in his station it seemed appropriate.

The characters aren’t always completely fleshed out. Gebu is a douchebag, to be sure, but we don’t really know why he’s so abusive to his younger half-brother, other than he likes to be in control. The bad guys are always evil, with no redeeming qualities. But for a children’s book, these people have a lot of personality. Ranofer’s friends are funny, clever and loyal. Ranofer himself is thrown into one bad situation after another, but he always keeps his eye on his goal of becoming a goldsmith. He isn’t allowed to become an apprentice? He watches everyone carefully so that he is still learning new techniques. He approaches one of the best goldsmiths in town and tries to convince him to accept his as an apprentice, even though he can’t pay the costs, because he is skilled and willing to work harder than anyone else. He just never gives up, and I really admire that about him.

It makes me sad to skim the reviews of this book on Amazon.com – mostly from kids – and see how many of them are negative because the book is “boring” and “hard”. One parent complained that the language is too complicated for kids, and I find that stance so annoying. First of all, the language isn’t that difficult – there are some Egyptian terms but translations are provided in the same sentence, and while there are some multi-syllable words they aren’t that unusual. Second, even if the language is a little harder, what’s wrong with challenging kids a little? If the book is really beyond them, just shelve the book for a year or two and try again when they’re a little more mature. ( )
2 vote makaiju | Apr 27, 2013 |
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The stream of molten gold flowed smoothly from the crucible, reflecting in its surface the cloudless blue of the Egyptian sky.
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Book description
When he is orphaned, Ranofer has no choice but to move in with his abusive half-brother Gebu. Though he longs to be a master goldsmith like his late father, Ranofer is forced to become an apprentice stone cutter. Worries about his future are soon overshadowed when he stumbles across a stolen secret. A Newberry Honor Book.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140303359, Paperback)

Ranofer struggles to thwart the plottings of his evil brother, Gebu, so he can become master goldsmith like their father in this exciting tale of ancient Egyptian mystery and intrigue.
Newbery Honor Book

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:52 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A young Egyptian boy struggles to reveal a hideous crime and reshape his own destiny.

» see all 3 descriptions

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