Literature: The Egypt Game

1968 Newbery Honor book by Zilpha Keatley Snyder about a group of children who play Ancient Egypt in the backyard of the local Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold, known only as "The Professor." The "Egypt gang" consists of:

But all is not well in their neighborhood when two children are murdered and everyone thinks "The Professor" is behind it. What, you didn't think a Newbery book would be free of death, did you?

Followed by a Sequel, The Gypsy Game, some thirty years after the original.

Provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear: The serial child killer. The kids (naturally) don't take the issue very seriously and are mostly just upset that their playtime has been ruined.
  • Asian Airhead: Elizabeth might count, although her na´vetÚ is attributed to her being two grades below April, Melanie, Toby, and Ken.
  • Clueless Mystery
  • Comic-Book Time: The Egypt Game seems to take place in the '60s. The Gypsy Game begins the moment its predecessor left off, but seems to take place in the '90s.
  • Convicted by Public Opinion: "The Professor" for the child murders.
  • Curtain Clothing: At one point, Melanie makes Egyptian robes for everyone using old curtains.
  • Death by Newbery Medal
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: April. It's not too hard to defrost her, though. Just let her get bored with her Jerkass Fašade.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: "The Professor". At the end, it's revealed that his real name is Dr. Julian Huddleston, although he still prefers to be called "The Professor".
  • The Fashionista: April tries being one.
  • Five-Token Band: April and Toby are white (the latter with a Hispanic surname), Melanie and Marshall are black, and Elizabeth and Ken are Asian. But Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped. The novel was written back when Uhura was making waves by sitting on the bridge of the Enterprise and saying "Hailing frequencies open, sir."
  • Free-Range Children: A Deconstructed Trope. The novel was written in 1967 and this trope is played straight until the murder of a child in the neighborhood causes the adults to temporarily be overprotective. In other words, exactly the way they are all the time nowadays. And at the end, April is almost killed by the murderer when she goes down to Egypt at night.
  • Girls Have Cooties: April and Melanie are still holding onto the "boys are gross" mindset at eleven years old, which was considered normal at the time.
  • Halloween Cosplay. Well, sort of anyway.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: "The Professor".
  • Narrative Profanity Filter
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The setting is an unnamed "large university town in California", which is almost certainly Berkeley or a fictional version thereof. (Incidentally, Zilpha Keatley Snyder once taught at the University of California at Berkeley.)
  • Parental Abandonment: Melanie, Marshall, and Ken are the only kids to have both parents and that's with Melanie and Marshall being siblings.
    • Disappeared Dad: April and Elizabeth's fathers died pre-story.
    • Missing Mom: Toby's mother. April's mother is still living, but, well, see below...
  • Parents as People: April's self-absorbed mother Dorothea sends her to live with her grandmother Caroline, promising her this will be a very temporary arrangement. Months pass, Dorothea doesn't write much, doesn't send for April when she said she would, and finally sends a letter explaining how she freakin' got married without her daughter and is now living in an apartment with her new husband. All the while, April gets to come to the slow and painful realization that she has essentially been abandoned.
  • The Power of Friendship
  • Pretty in Mink: April
  • Security Blanket: Marshall with a stuffed octopus actually named Security.
  • Sequel Hook: "Melanie, what do you know about Gypsies?" It took thirty years in real time for Melanie to answer "Not very much, I guess. Why?"
  • The Sixties
  • Team Mom: Melanie
  • Those Two Guys: Ken and Toby
  • True Companions: The Egypt gang.