Pharaoh's Boat

Pharaoh's Boat
by David Weitzman

Pharaoh's Boat is a fascinating book!  I wasn't overly excited to read about the construction of a ship, but that's only because I had never heard the intriguing details about this very unique ship that was built for Pharaoh Cheops to sail into the afterlife. This book makes a nice complement to other ancient Egypt books on more traditional topics like the pyramids, pharaohs, mummies, etc.

Readers learn primarily about the construction of the ship, including materias that were used and the method of assembly. Readers also learn a bit about Egyptians burial traditions and afterlife beliefs. For me, the biggest 'take away' was how truly innovative the ancient Egyptians were!  The text is quite long for a picture book, but this is not a book for young children. Older children should be able to follow along and maintain interest throughout, especially given how well it is written.
pharaohs boat
In a starred review, Booklist said of this book: "Part mystery, part ancient history, this handsome book takes readers back in time."  And SLJ said, also in a starred review, that this title "weaves the history, texts, mythology, and customs of ancient Egypt into an effective narrative, drawing readers in."

If you are using this book in the classroom, consider following up your reading with actual photographs of the ship. They are quite easy to find simply by doing a Google images search for 'pharaohs boat' or 'Cheops ship' or 'khufu ship'. The image shown at right is from the Wikipedia page for Khufu ship.

Also,be sure to read the prologue before launching into the book. It briefly introduces the modern-day discovery of the structure, which they initially thought was a wall.  And then be sure to read the afterward, which briefly talks about a second ship that was found buried just next to the original.

Book Details

Reading Stats
Interest Level: Gr. 4-8        DRA Level: n/a
Reading Level: age 4-8      Lexile Measure: NC1170L

Topics Covered    Ancient Egypt (History)    

Awards & Rating
School Library Journal Best Book 2009
Average Amazon Rating: 4.5 stars (5 reviews)
Pharaoh’s Boat

Peek Inside
Below are sample pages from inside Pharaoh's Boat. Weitzman's Egyptian style illustrations are not just a treat to look at; they also add clarity to the text.  Below are the end papers, which are so beautiful and representative of the overall style that we decided to include it here.

The Pharaoh's Boat

This is the first spread in the book (after the prologue). It discusses the death of the great pharaoh Cheops and sets the scene for the work to be done in preparation for his journey into the afterlife.  Although the purpose of this book is to talk about the construction and then modern reconstruction of the pharaoh's boat, readers also learn about Egyptian burial traditions and afterlife beliefs.

The Pharaoh's Boat

This illustration is paired with a description of how the boat was 'sewn' together, with half-round wooden poles put over the joints to prevent leaking. This boat was designed so as to be easily disassembled, then reassembled. In fact, the boat was buried disassembled with all the necessary components (planks, ropes...) so that the pharaoh could reassemble it in the afterlife and use it when needed.)

Pharaoh's Boat

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