Wednesday, April 15, 2009

“The Hidden Treasure of the Forgotten Pharaoh” is a whimsical contemporary fairy tale

Time travel and treasure hunting are universal wishful fantasies in our contemporary world. Lee Ann Johnston-Thomas has crafted a delightful magical story that combines both in “The Hidden Treasure of the Forgotten Pharaoh,” (Iuniverse, New York, 2008, ISBN 978-0-595-47552-0, $ 11.95).

Fifteen year-old Nikki Weston has travelled to Egypt with his parents, his personal tutor Tiggy, and Ian, a family friend. While his parents are involved in their daily business routines, Nikki, Tiggy, and Ian spend their time exploring Egyptian ruins. One day they stumble upon some ancient hieroglyphics on an old wall. These ancient drawings speak of the hidden treasure of Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Before this female pharaoh died, she had her trusted servant, Hapuseneb, hide her wealth from her successor, Tuthmoses III. The hieroglyphics offer clues as to the whereabouts of the Pharaoh’s treasure and the three adventurers set out to find Hatshepsut’s riches.

One morning, after discovering Dier-el-Basahari, the funeral temple of the Pharaoh, Tiggy has a vision of ancient Egypt. They enter the temple and she has another vision of a young woman who claims to need Tiggy’s help. Suddenly, they are transported back in time to 1458 BC where they meet Princess Merira, the youngest daughter of Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Merira is to wed Tuthmoses III, the successor to her mother’s throne who will steal her mother’s wealth. The Princess needs the help of Tiggy, Nikki, and Ian to save Pharaoh’s Hatshepsut’s riches.

The time-travelers are delighted with the beauty of ancient Egypt. Where there were ruins just a short time ago in their own time, now there is rich, verdant land laden with olive trees and other lush vegetation. Egyptian slaves bring them platters of food and drink and musicians entertain them. Pharaoh Tuthmoses III becomes smitten with Tiggy and decides that he will marry her. Tuthmoses’ evil magi is afraid that if Tiggy marries Tuthmoses she will prevent him from squandering the riches of the lost Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Tiggy, Nikki, and Ian must find their way out of this dangerous ancient Egypt and get back to their own time.

Lee Ann Johnston-Thomas has masterfully composed an enchanting story that will appeal not only to youth between the ages of 9-15, but to the adult members of their families, as well.

Johnston, a sixth grade math and science teacher at Kendall Elementary School, began telling her students a story of ancient Egypt. She would write parts of the story at home at night and read the developing adventures of Tiggy, Nikki, and Ian to her students the next day. In fact, the characters in the book are named after the children in her classes and they even helped Thomas design the cover of the book.

Thomas, currently in her 14th year of teaching, has taught underprivileged children for 13 of her 14 years’ tenure. She plans to return to her disadvantaged students next year.

While Thomas focuses primarily on math and science, she certainly displays an exceptional talent for writing. She initially began this project as a team-teaching leader when challenged by English and writing teachers who complained that their students could not read or write at their grade levels.

“This book motivated the kids to read,” says Thomas. “They are constantly asking for more.”

Thomas has written another book of stories for her school children and plans to write a sequel to The Hidden Treasure of the Forgotten Pharaoh.

The Hidden Treasure of the Forgotten Pharaoh can be ordered from and

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