Friday, October 12, 2012

Secrets of the Prince's Tomb (The Imagination Station #7)

Many parents appreciate the Imagination Station books as a Christian alternative to The Magic Treehouse series - and my daughter keeps asking me to buy the latest Imagination Station books. When we recently read #7 in the series, Secret of the Prince's Tomb, I was pleased to see the series is getting stronger.

In Secret of the Prince's Tomb, Patrick complains to Mr.Whittaker that he's a slave at school - and worse, kids are teasing him because of his belief in God. Mr. Whittaker tries not to laugh at Patrick's slave remark, then sends the boy and his cousin Beth on a trip in the time-traveling Imagination Station. The two children end up in an ancient Egyptian marketplace. When they bump into a young girl, they suddenly find themselves on the run from some big, burly men who turn out to be a sort of ancient police. The girl they bumped into, Tabitha, is being shoved out of her palatial home, along with the rest of her family. Her good friend, Lateef, is upset about this and orders the police to leave Tabitha alone - and the police listen. It turns out Lateef is prince; his father is the pharaoh.

Patrick and Beth accompany Lateef to the palace, where they refuse to give offerings to the Egyptian gods. Lateef isn't thrilled by this, but he admits his good friend Tabitha believes in only one God, too. The children soon learn why the pharaoh has ordered people like Tabitha, whom he calls "Habiru," into slavery. He feels they've become too numerous and will soon try to take over Egypt. There is no hope for Tabitha and her family; they will be slaves no matter what Lateef wishes.

Beth and Patrick try to save Tabitha, but only end up being arrested. Thankfully, Lateef frees them, warning them to stay away from the Habiru because he cannot free them if they end up in jail again. But Patrick and Beth feel lead to the place where Tabitha and her family now live - where they discover there is much talk of God forgetting the Habiru. Perhaps, someone suggests, if they had the body of their great, dead prince, they could retain hope.

The cousins, trying to help, break into the Valley of the Dead (where the tombs of the great leaders of Egypt lie), hoping to retrieve this prince's body. But then they realize: This prince the Habiru love is Joseph of the Old Testament - the Hebrew boy sold as a slave in Egypt, who later rose to second in command of that nation. In an "ah-ha" moment, the cousins realize the Habiru are the Hebrew of the Old Testament, and that they have traveled back in time to the days of Moses' birth. They remember that Moses brought Joseph's bones out of Egypt when God let set the Hebrews free from Egypt - so the cousins can't move Joseph's bones now.

As best they can, the cousins explain this to the Habiru, reminding them God hasn't forgotten them - just as he didn't forget Joseph when he was sold into slavery or spent years in prison. They leave in the Imagination Station and, once home, Patrick admits to Mr. Whittaker that his slavery comment was out of line - and that, even though he's being teased at school, God is with him.

What I Like: This book doesn't delve into the strange, mystical world of Egyptian religion, for which I'm thankful. We do get a taste of the mystery of the Egyptian world when the cousins break into the Valley of the Dead, however, traveling through a maze of tombs and hieroglyphics. It's just enough to keep the story interesting. The pace of the book is better than many of the Imagination Station books, and there are a number of cliff-hanging chapters that made my daughter cry, "Just one more chapter! Please???" And of course I love that there's an important lesson about God's presence in our lives, even when things seem to  go all wrong.

What I Dislike: David Hohn illustrates this series with black and white drawings. Normally I really like his work, but in this series, the children are disturbingly thin. However, this problem is less prominent in this book than in some others.

Overall Rating: Very good.

Age Appeal: 7 to 10 or so (the Flesch-Kinkiad reading level is 2.3, but the book is a good read-to-me title for children not yet in that reading level)

Publishing Info: Tyndale; 2011; ISBN: 978-1589976733; paperback, 128 pgs., $4.99.

Special Info: This book easily stands alone from the series; your child doesn't need to have read other books in the series to understand and enjoy this one. There is also a free family devotional, parent's page, and vocabulary list for this book on the Imagination Station website.

Buy Now at Amazon for $4.99
(Buy the Kindle version for $3.82)

OR buy the paperback or ebook at for $4.49


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