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Pharaoh's Daughter: A Novel of Ancient Egypt…

Pharaoh's Daughter: A Novel of Ancient Egypt (2002)

by Julius Lester

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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The Pharoah has ordered that all Jewish baby boys be killed. Everyone in Almah’s village is prepared to hide their babies in baskets under the bulrushes in the river. But when Almah’s baby brother Yekutiel is hidden in the river, the Pharoah’s daughter herself finds him and declares him a gift to her from the god Taweret. The princess takes him, renames him Mosis, and brings him to the palace. His mother goes along as a wet nurse and Almah accompanies as a translator and “little sister” to the princess. Against her mother’s wishes Almah becomes more and more drawn to the Egyptian way of life. She becomes a favorite of the Pharoah Ramsees and performs as a dancer. The second half of the book is told from Mosis’ point of view. He finds himself caught between two worlds, a Jew raised as an Egyptian. When his “grandfather” the Pharoah orders all Jews to work on building his temple, Mosis is further torn, and he ends up killing a man while trying to find his identity.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Julius Lester, who has redone Little Black Sambo and Uncle Remus, retells the Moses story. He choose to tell the story partly from Moses's point of view, but mostly from an older, imagined sister's point of view. In Lester's retelling, Almah is the sister that is instrumental to Moses's adoption. Almah is drawn to Egypt's religious beliefs, eventually taking an Egyptian name and becoming a priestess. At the same time, the princess who adopts Moses is drawn in the opposite direction. When we hear from Moses, or Mosis as he is called in the story, he is caught in between two cultures, fitting into neither. Lester's intensive research into Ancient Egypt and the biblical story took place before, during, and after his conversion to Judiaism and shows a healthy respect for history, religious belief, and what it is like to be born into a religion you are not drawn to. Additionally, Lester does an excellent job writing a girl's perspective of puberty and being drawn to the divine when her religious tradition doesn't seem to have place for her. With all this going for it, this novel might have been served better by being fleshed out and written for adults. As is, this novel might have trouble finding its reader. As Almah tells most of the story, boys might be turned off. Christians looking for biblical fiction might find Lester's historically accurate inclusions of nudity offensive. It might be hard to find the teen who would appreciate the midrash Lester practices, but those teens are out there. The trouble for a librarian might be finding them. ( )
  MissyAnn | Oct 25, 2015 |
This is a landmark book from my childhood. Alma's character spoke to me at a deep, memorable level. This book was the first time I was introduced to Jewish theology and the tradition of midrash. ( )
  brleach | Jan 26, 2015 |
Lester invents another sister for Moses; she lives in the Egyptian court and feels more comfortable with the Egyptian world view than the Jewish one. The book is a modern midrash done before Julius Lester knew the term. The note at the end explains all the research and thought that went into the book. ( )
  raizel | Aug 1, 2011 |
Read several years ago and still remember how much I loved it. Good young adult read with a great tie in to Old Testament Egypt. The imagery and dialogue were very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed the plot and surprising ending. ( )
  Allizabeth | Jul 18, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Julius Lesterprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kramer, DaveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To My Lady,Milan
First words
I sit on the stone bench in the garden of the Women's Palace.
I am angry. "Well, I don't believe your story. It's not true!"
"Well, it is as true for us as your story is for you. It is what we believe, ...."
[p. 74]
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0064409694, Paperback)

In his introduction to this engrossing novel of ancient Egypt, Julius Lester says, "It is difficult not to see Charlton Heston when one thinks of Moses." But not in this book. Lester's Moses is a bungling teenager, scared and confused as he tries to find the courage to decide who he is and what he believes in. Raised as the pampered grandson of Pharaoh, he enjoys the attentions of three mother figures: Yocheved, his birth mother, who constantly implores him to return to his own people; Almah, his older sister, who has left her traditions to dance naked as a priestess of the goddess Hathor; and Batya, Pharoah's daughter, who saved him from death when he was a baby. But now his anger at his unresolved split identity has goaded him into a terrible act of violence--an act that will have a vast impact on history.

Julius Lester, a distinguished African-American writer best known for his Newbery Honor Book To Be a Slave, startled the literary world in 1981 by converting to Judaism. In Pharaoh's Daughter he follows the time-honored Jewish tradition of Midrash--a way of exploring a sacred text through the use of one's imagination. Armed with an impressive knowledge of the Hebrew language and the history of ancient Egypt, he jolts us out of our expectations and brings a fresh and richly detailed perspective to the Exodus. As Moses flees with his father's blessing--"You must go and come back and teach us all to be free"--we can only hope that Julius Lester plans to tell the rest of the story. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:51 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A fictionalized account of the Biblical tale in which a Hebrew infant, rescued by the daughter of the Pharaoh, passes through a turbulent adolescence to eventually become a prophet of his people while his sister finds her true self as a priestess to the Egyptian gods.… (more)

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