The shipwrecked sailor : an Egyptian tale with hieroglyphs

Bibliographic Information: Bower, Tamara (2000). The shipwrecked sailor : an Egyptian tale with hieroglyphs. New York: Laurel-Leaf.

Plot Description: This story is based on one written in hieroglyphics on a scroll from the 19th century B.C. The story tells of a sailor who is the lone-survivor of a shipwreck. The sailor is washed onto the shore of a beautiful island where he finds plenty to eat and drink. He eats his fill and makes an offering to the gods to thank them for his safety. Then suddenly a giant serpent appears and threatens to turn the sailor into ashes with his breath of fire. However, instead the serpent tells the sailor his own story of loss and the two become close friends. The serpent tells the sailor he will stay on the island four months and then he will be picked up by his countrymen and return to his home. The serpent also says the sailor was brought to the island of the Soul by God and whenever he is in danger he can take courage from its memory, which lives within him. Everything happens as the Serpent predicted and he asks only that the sailor speak well of him upon his return. The Serpent gives the sailor many precious things to bring back to Pharaoh, who rewards him with a promotion and a new house.

Quantitative Reading Level: Interest Level: Lower Grades, ATOS Book Level: 4.5

Qualitative Reading Analysis: There are unfamiliar words, such as ‘cubit’ (a unit of measurement) which are explained at the end of the book. Throughout the book sentences from the text are written in hieroglyphics at the top or bottom of the page. There is a note about hieroglyphics in the back of the book which explains when they were used and some basic characteristics of how the system worked. The experiences are not familiar to students. The illustrations and hieroglyphics are not necessary to understanding the story, but they are helpful and enrich the experience. There is also a note about the story and the present day names of the locations mentioned, as well as a map.

Content Area: Reading, Language Arts, History

Content Area Standard: English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Key Ideas and Details: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.2 Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Craft and Structure: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students use the hieroglyph alphabet to draw a sentence of their own about the story. Find the central meaning of the story and use details from the text to support your answer. Summarize the story in your own words. Write definitions for unfamiliar vocabulary and then create your own sentence using your vocabulary word.

Supporting Digital Content:

Character names/descriptions: A Lieutenant who tells the story of his ship going down and a giant Serpent he meets when shipwrecked on an island.

Personal Thoughts: I enjoyed seeing the hieroglyphic translations throughout the book. The background information on the origins of the story was also interesting.

High interest annotation: This Egyptian tale of a sailor’s experience of being shipwrecked on a mysterious island and befriending a giant Serpent, includes excerpts of the tale written in hieroglyphics.


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Filed under Reading For Pleasure (Picture Books)

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