King Tutankhamun Tells All!

Image of King Tutankhamun Tells All!
Release Date: 
June 8, 2021
Thames & Hudson
Reviewed by: 

King Tutankhamun Tells All provides a lively introduction to Egyptology and to the famous boy king.”

King Tutankhamun Tells All provides a lively introduction to Egyptology and to the famous boy king, Tut, perhaps the best-known pharaoh today. Written in a colloquial, inviting tone, the book opens at a museum where a kid is intrigued by a display of shabtis. As a guide explains:

“These shabtis are figurines of the king and were believed to do his work for him in the afterlife. The Book of the Dead mentions the formula you need to use to get them working: ‘Oh shabti, if I have any work in the afterlife, you will do it for me. You’ll say, Here I am!’”

The impressed child has the same response the young reader might have:

“Epic! Imagine having little minions like these to do your work for you. Hey, shabti—HERE I AM! I have some chores for you to help me with and a little sister who needs babysitting.”

A voice interrupts the visitor’s call to the shabtis: “Excuse me! Those are MY shabtais, and they are plenty busy keeping little so-and-sos like you from disturbing me in my afterlife.”

With that, King Tut steps out of his sarcaphagus and onto the page, bringing the reader through a short history of his life, the riches in his tomb, and the discovery of it in the early 20th century by Howard Carter. The treasures from Tut’s tomb have traveled all over the world, more than any other pharaoh’s riches, so his is the name the public is most familiar with, though he died young and didn’t accomplish much, especially compared to some of his ancestors.

The author, Chris Naunton, is an Egyptologist who does a good job of sketching basic Egyptian beliefs and daily life. The illustrator complements the text well with bright images of expressive characters. The two work well together, the art allowing a contemporary visual explanation for some very ancient history.

There is only one slightly confusing place. When describing the controversy King Tut’s father caused by shifitng the focus of religious worship to Aten, it’s not clear what this change really meant and why it was so unpopular. This is something that could have used another page, explaining who Amun and Mut are: the gods “neglected” by Tut’s dad (the pharaoh Akhenaten). In fact, a page in the back with a list of gods, images, and definitions would be welcome.

Still, that’s a small nit to pick in a fun book full of fascinating facts, from what things a pharaoh would eat to the design of his shoes.