Imhotep of Ancient Kemet
This beautifully illustrated children’s book introduces the reader to the life of Imhotep who lived during Egypt’s Old Kingdom (2600-2100 BCE). The colorful depictions allow the reader to get a sense of the landscape of Egypt and the centrality of the Nile river. Through the life of a young boy named Imhotep we enter a world of the scientists, priests, and artisans who served the king of ancient Egypt, one of whom was Imhotep’s father. Young Imhotep’s curiosity about his father’s building activities inspires the young polymath (priest, doctor, architect, scribe, politician, and more!) to experiment with his own building techniques.
The book contains many explanations of aspects of Egyptian culture: the hieroglyphic script, religious practices, as well as words that may be unfamiliar to a young reader, thereby making it an excellent and pleasurable teaching tool. Images on the end pages are taken from actual statues, papyrus texts, and temple and tomb decoration (erroneously called hieroglyphs), which the author asks the reader to find throughout the book. Also appreciated are the endearing images of the pets of Imhotep (a black cat) and King Djoser (his Basenji dogs).
The author, Nigerian-Canadian Ekiuwa Aire, has written a series of illustrated children’s books about African history and culture, each of which centers on an historical figure. Ms. Aire was inspired to write her children’s books when she “noticed the lack of diversity in the children’s book industry, specifically regarding children’s books on African history.” Ms. Aire has nobly and thoroughly addressed this lack of African history, themes, and culture in books made for children in her books about Njinga, Sundjata, Idia, and Imhotep. Furthermore, enthusiastic parents and teachers can find teaching tools to accompany the books on Ms. Aire’s website. I give this book and its associated teaching tools five stars.
Solange Ashby, Ph.D.
Published in Africa Access Review (March 12, 2023)
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