BY GLENN TOLLE
I’ve always loved the study of ancient Egypt. Growing up, I read every book I could on ancient Egyptian culture and vowed that I would someday visit the Valley of the Kings where many of the most famous Egyptian mummies rested. Or did they?
Since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, stories of reanimated mummies and mummy curses have reignited the public’s interest in ancient Egypt and fostered a pop-culture fed mystique. Not surprisingly, this mystique has enchanted every form of media and entertainment, including children’s horror fiction.
One such example is THE MUMMY WHO WOULDN’T DIE by E.A.M. Jakab. This book is part of the CHOOSE YOUR OWN NIGHTMARE series published by BANTAM BOOKS in 1996, the year this columnist was born. The reader takes an active role in the book, joining Kate and Josh Danvers as they visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art to write a report on Ancient Egypt. As expected, things don’t go according to plan. The Danvers kids end up having to out chase an ancient mummy, and possibly some burglars intent on making off with the mummy’s treasure.
As the series title suggests, the reader chooses what direction the narrative takes. Much like R.L. Stine’s GIVE YOURSELF GOOSEBUMPS series, and the much beloved CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE series, readers play a key character in the story with the ability to make executive decisions on how the story plays out: should the the mummy’s amulet be returned to the museum curator, or to the actual exhibit? And should the Danvers kids stay and help the security guard who’s tied up and about to become mummy lunch?
While certainly not a very original story(s), THE MUMMY WHO WOULDN’T DIE does feature some unique illustrations as well as some very tasty historical tidbits to give young readers insight into important aspects of ancient Egyptian culture. It’s these two elements that really elevate the book from others of its kind.
I purchased THE MUMMY WHO WOULDN’T DIE a year ago, along with 15 other children’s horror books, four of which contained Egyptian mummies. Out of those mummy-centric children’s horror books and the seven others in my collection, THE MUMMY WHO WOULDN’T DIE stands out as one of the most historically accurate and enjoyable.