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The Winged Cat by Deborah Nourse Lattimore
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The Winged Cat (edition 1995)

by Deborah Nourse Lattimore

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1023214,898 (3.2)None
In ancient Egypt, a young servant girl and a High Priest must each find the correct magic spells from the Book of the Dead that open the twelve gates of the Netherworld to determine who is telling the truth about the death of the girl's sacred cat.
Member:apple4
Title:The Winged Cat
Authors:Deborah Nourse Lattimore
Info:HarperCollins (1995), Paperback, 40 pages
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The Winged Cat: A Tale of Ancient Egypt by Deborah Nourse Lattimore

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Attractive as this text is, as a picture book it is pretty opaque; it confuses rather than illuminates Egyptian mythology for the young reader (the target audience).

The narrative premise is this: a young girl and a greedy high priest are ordered by the pharaoh to make a journey to the underworld to determine who is telling the truth about the death of a cat. The girl, Merit, is able to pass through the twelve gates by "reading", but what, exactly, she is reading is not clear. Several gods are alluded to, but their roles and domains are not clarified in the text, nor is there any explanation about the "ushabtis" (funerary figures) woven into the narrative.

In most introductory texts about Ancient Egypt, Ra is typically identified as the sun god; in "The Winged Cat", however, Horus is confusingly named in that role. In light of these details, I believe that only someone with a good knowledge of Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, especially about the afterlife and the complex and overlapping pantheon of Egyptian deities, would find the book accessible. If it is used in the classroom, I'd recommend it for upper middle school. It's not suitable for the younger set of kids that I had in mind to read it to. Not recommended. ( )
  fountainoverflows | Jan 4, 2020 |
In Ancient Egypt there was a girl named Merit who swept the halls in the temple of the cat goddess Bastet. Everyday Merit would spend time with a small cat, named Bast. One night as Merit was sleeping, the god Toth dropped a gold heart shaped amulet on the ground by Merit. The next day, the Pharaoh's High Priest, named Waha, spotted the amulet and just as he went to grab it, he tripped over Bast and flung Bast into the Nile. Bast drowned and Merit told Waha she would tell the High Priest of what Waha did. The High Priest tells them both that they must travel to the Netherworld where their hearts will be weighed, if the heart weighs the same as a feather, then the High Priest will know that they are telling the truth. Once Merit and Waha make their way there, they are greeted by the god Toth. Waha immediately shows off the amulet he found, but instead of being impressed, Toth says that the amulet was his and chewed Waha up.
The illustrations in this book are beautiful and seem to be real hieroglyphics. I also like author's Afterword that explains how Egyptians believed that after people died, they lived again in another world. I feel like this would be great to share with 3-5 graders if they are studying Ancient Egypt. ( )
  SMLawrence | Nov 29, 2014 |
This story is based on a tale from Ancient Egypt. The illustrations are done in Egyption motif. This story is a little difficult to understand, but the illustration help with the story line. ( )
  michelle.smith | Aug 6, 2011 |
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In ancient Egypt, a young servant girl and a High Priest must each find the correct magic spells from the Book of the Dead that open the twelve gates of the Netherworld to determine who is telling the truth about the death of the girl's sacred cat.

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A simple serving girl who works in the temple of the cat goddess is sent on a quest by the Pharaoh himself. Accompanied by the spirit of her faithful cat, she travels through the underworld on a dangerous journey.
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