Secrets of a Sun King

Secrets of a sun king

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Reviewed by Jude, age 11

Thrillingly mind boggling; this is a novel to be read by anyone who is hungry for twists, turns, and literary excellence.

The story is of a girl – Lil – in 1922. One day, she sees a newspaper stating the death of esteemed scholar, professor Hanawati. When she goes to her grandad’s house, she finds a parcel from the late professor himself. Suddenly, Lil and her best friend, Tulip, are thrown into an adventure around the globe; one full of thrills, shocks, scams and deception. . .

I believe that this book would appeal to ages eight plus, because it has some death and mystery that some younger children may find disturbing. This book would be enjoyed by boys and girls alike, and that the plot is not gender specific. It would also be more suited to a modern audience. This is because of its push for equality for both gender and race.

In my opinion, the book is perfect. I think that the writing, though very good indeed, could have explored more vocabulary and metaphors. But all in all, an exceptional novel!

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Reviewed by Thom


When Lil finds a package on her Grandad’s doorstep, who has sent it? What does it contain? Lil’s grandad is ill – why? Very recently someone, someone big, has died! Could this be related to Tutankhamun’s curse? …One curse three children…

A great story aged for 6+. Both boys and girls would love this book. There is no violence / conflict although some parts are mildly gruesome.

I loved this book; you definitely do not know what will happen next and it has many twists and turns.

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Reviewed by George L


A thrilling tale of a little girl who has to make her way across the globe to save her Grandad – to find her brother – to discover the infamous truth about a famous archaeologist and to aid her family to their own secrets. All this starts when she finds a package on her grandad’s doorstep from a scholar of Middle Eastern art whose name was smothered all over Britain’s newspapers in black and white that very morning.

Emma Carroll produces a stunning book that takes you back to 1922. The best bit about it is the fact that it gives you detailed idea of life back in 1922. The only complaint I have is that at the beginning it rambles on for a tad too long.

This is a story I believe can be read by (or to) 8 or 9 year old and older as there are a few fairly tricky words.


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Reviewed by Miss Walsh



INTERESTS: history, Egypt, World War 1, trains, school, museum, archaeology, Tutankhamun

THEMES: family, friendship, bullies, mystery, death, curses, secrets

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
Our Castle by the Sea by Lucy Strange
The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan

MY THOUGHTS: Engaging fiction sprinkled with historically accurate facts making this a great text for an Egyptian topic.

Lillian’s grandfather was an adventurous young man and during his travels he discovered a canopic jar in Egypt with his friend. Sadly that friend suddenly passes away but just before he dies he sends the ancient artefact to Lil’s grandfather. Astonishingly it contains a first person account of the last days of Tutankhamun’s life whose tomb, coincidentally, is being searched for by Howard Carter at that very moment. Due to Lil’s grandfather taking ill, it is she who discovers the package and its contents. There’s an odd feeling about the jar that she just can’t shake. Looking for answers, she heads to the British Museum where she meets Tulip and Oz; Tulip also attends St Kilda’s School for Girls. Making friends, they quickly become embroiled in a plot to return the jar to its rightful place in Egypt so as to set Kyky (the informal nickname given to Tutankhamun in the writings contained in the jar) to rest finally. Using her mother’s connections at the Washington Post, Tulip (somewhat fraudulently) arranges passage for them all to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. Facing several mysterious occurrences on the way and an apparent curse taking hold that is shockingly similar to the circumstances surrounding King Tut’s death, the three children doggedly pursue their goal.

This is a very informative read, not only into the discovery of the tomb by Howard Carter, but also into the lives of Ancient Egyptians and their beliefs, as well as the aftermath of WW1 on the families left behind. The main character, Lilian, is likeable and relatable, facing everyday issues like not having prepared for her spelling test at school! There is significant discussion of death in this book so you may want to bear that in mind before reading with your class, taking into account the personal circumstances of your children. However it is approached in a way that is neither morbid not patronising. The relationship between the three children is believable, although Tulip’s arrangement of their travel seems a little farfetched! The fiction surrounding the facts is generally well written and engaging (there were a few points that did make me go, really?!). There is a nice sprinkling of subject-specific vocabulary throughout but not too much as to make it inaccessible to independent readers.

This text could be used for multiple units and genres: it would work well for flashback stories, recounts, adventure or mystery. Obviously it fits perfectly for cross-curricular history and English topics. I am currently studying the Egyptians with my year 3s and even the extracts about Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon initially discovering the tomb would’ve been great to support the writing of diary entries we wrote about this… shame I didn’t read this sooner! It is worth noting that there is a section about a ouija board while the children are on the train.

All in all, an enjoyable read with educational merit in several areas.


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