I love historical fiction especially those where the main story is lower on the fiction and high on the historical events of a time period. A Cry from Egypt did not disappoint me in that arena!
A Cry from Egypt is a children’s story written by Hope Auer, illustrated by Mike Slaton, and published by Raising Real Men for children 8 and up. Set in Egypt during the time of Moses and the plagues, the story follows the actions, feelings, and conversations of a fictional Israelite family, especially a young girl during this time. The family members are all slaves working for pharaoh in various capacities. What might the Israelites thought when they saw the Nile turn to blood? What might they have thought when the frogs enveloped the city? How might they have felt living among the Egyptians? A Cry from Egypt gives a glimpse into the possibilities. This story also highlights the turmoil that results in a family when members do not share the same faith as well as the struggles Jahara, the main character, has in coming to know Jehovah and develop her faith and trust in God.
When I received this book, I read it first and really enjoyed it. I found that while the Israelite family was completely fictional, they were believable and real. They facilitated the depiction of the historical events and brought them to life. Sometimes the story was not roses though! There are several points in the book where slaves are beaten including one scene where an overseer beats Jahara nearly to death. These scenes are not gratuitous violence but rather add to the story and further add to the feelings and experience of the Israelites. The author suggests that the not all the Israelites were still worshiping Jehovah. While not scripturally explicit, this is a real possibility since they lived among the Egyptians for so long, were constantly being warned not to worship false gods, and shortly after delivery were found worshiping a golden calf! I especially liked how the author used this speculative device to highlight possible reasons why the various plagues were so offensive to the Egyptians. She explains how each plague is making a mockery of one of the Egyptian gods through storytelling rather than preaching. This was something I had not thought about before. I also liked that where scriptural references to conversations were available, the author used the words of the scriptures so as to remain true to the Biblical account but otherwise she stayed away from conversations between Biblical characters. Another thing that I love in historical fiction is reference notes. Again, A Cry from Egypt did not disappoint! The end of the book includes some research notes for further clarification on the history of Egypt.
After I finished reading the book, I handed it off to Butterfly and Tiger. Both devoured it and loved it. When I asked Butterfly about it, she said it was a really good story and was like reading the scriptures because it tells the story of Moses! She did know it was a fiction story, but she was able to pick up the story of Moses woven throughout as well.
Tiger picked up on the relationships between the brother and his sister. He said he really liked how the older brother took care of his sister and watched out for her. Perhaps he picked up on this because we have been discussing his role as big brother to his sisters lately. I agree with him, the older brother is an excellent role model. He also said he liked the whole thing.
I love that this book was wholesome, uplifting, well-written, and enjoyable to read. I enjoyed sharing it with my children and intend to read it out loud down the road. Advanced reader copies of A Cry from Egypt are available for $12.50. Be sure to read the other reviews for this book as well as the other book the Crew reviewed for Raising Real Men: Children in Church.