Pharaoh's Daughter: A Novel of Ancient Egypt

Pharaoh's Daughter: A Novel of Ancient Egypt

by Julius Lester

Paperback(First Edition)

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Born into slavery, adopted as an infant by a princess, and raised in the palace of mighty Pharaoh, Moses struggles to define himself. And so do the three women who love him: his own embittered mother, forced to give him up by Pharaoh's decree; the Egyptian princess who defies her father and raises Moses as her own child; and his headstrong sister Almah, who discovers a greater kinship with the Egyptian deities than with her own God of the Hebrews. Told by Moses and his sister Almah from alternating points of view, this stunning novel by Newbery Honor-author Julius Lester probes questions of identity, faith, and destiny.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780152066628
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 03/09/2009
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 166,066
Product dimensions: 4.30(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

JULIUS LESTER is the author of more than twenty books for young readers. He writes and teaches in western Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt

Year 15 of the Reign of Ramesses The Great,
1stmonth of Akhet

Chapter One

My parents talked in the darkness for a long time, their voices moving in and out of my sleep like the back of a hippopotamus rising and sinking in the Great Hapi. Abba, Father, spoke softly and slowly, while Ima, Mother, talked rapidly, as if she had to get all the words out before she forgot them. My brother Aharon, and sister, Miryam, are seven and four and hear nothing, not even the sounds of their own sleep. My baby brother, Yekutiel, is barely three months old. He sleeps through everything.

I am Almah, and I used to sleep like Yekutiel, but now that I am twelve I lie awake in the darkness. Something is wrong. Every evening after Abba comes home from working on the pharaoh's temple in Pi-Ramesses, men come to talk. My father is named Amram, and he is a leader of our people, the Habiru, "the people from the other side." ("The other side of what?" I asked him once. He said we have a land of our own, and one day our. god, Ya, will send a redeemer who will lead us out of Khemet and into our land. Abba said that in our land the rivers flow with milk and honey. When I Asked, "What is a redeemer and when is he coming?" he looked away.) Abba and the men talk long into the darkness, but their voices are low and I cannot hear their words. Yesterday I asked Ima what they were talking about. She looked at me as if I were bad luck that had come to life.

I get up when I see the blackness on the ceiling change to gray. Miryam has a leg-on top of mine, an arm flung across my chest. Aharon lies pressed against me on the other side. Abba snores softly. Gently Imove Miryam's arm and leg and get up. She and Aharon do not waken, but they sense I am leaving and move closer to each other. Aharon has only a little while longer to sleep before it will be time for him to get up and go with Abba to work in Pi-Ramesses.

Rubbing my eyes I walk into the kitchen and get the water jar. I go out the back door, past the bread oven built against the house, through the doorway in the wall, and into the narrow street. Pale pink tinges the eastern sky where the sun will rise.

Our house is on the comer of the Street of the Serpent and the Street of the River, at the farthest end of the village. It faces the Great Hapi, though at a safe distance. The river has started rising, which means the new year has begun. In Khemetian it is called the season of Akhet. The river will rise until it threatens to flow over the top of the road that protects us. That has never happened, though. But for almost two months it will be as if we are living next to the Great Green Sea. Then slowly, so slowly that we will not notice at first, the river will return to its bed and leave behind the thick black mud in which we will plant.

Other girls and women walk by me, water jars atop their heads like hair piled high, on their first of many trips to the river for water. Though one or two glance at me, they do not speak.

Instead of following them, I cross the street to a small path and disappear among the canebrake and the long sharp leaves of the papyri that tower above me. The birds send warning calls from the tops of the papyri. I would think they would know me by now.

Eventually I come to a stream, one of the branches of the Great Hapi where the river is not as wide or deep. The others are afraid to come here for water. Because of the snakes. They say I come here because I think I am better than anybody else and don't want to be around them. ("Who cares if you can speak Kbemetian? If you were a real Habiru, you would not speak the language of people who bate us.") I tried to explain that it is quiet here and that I like the music of the silence and the music of the birds. They did not believe me. Perhaps because I was not telling the truth.

I look carefully for any snakes or crocodiles that might be hiding in the thick bulrushes. Then, looking around once more to be sure no one is watching, I take off my dress and face the sun. It seems to be reaching for me through the papyri as its warmth pours over my newswelling breasts and the wispy hair that says I am becoming a woman.

This is the real reason I come here for water. I have never told anyone. It is my secret. Mine and the sun's. I raise my arms high over my head and move them outward in a circle as if I am holding the sun, but it does not bum me because Hove it and it loves me. I close my eyes and tongues of warmth cover my body. I think I could stand here like this for the rest of my life.

However, sooner than I would like, I get nervous that someone will see me. I know they can't, but that does not matter. I force my eyes open and slip my dress on. Then I fill the jar, put it on my head, and start for home...

Pharaoh's Daughter. Copyright © by Julius Lester. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

star "A captivating story and a compelling portrait of a Moses torn between two cultures."—Publishers Weekly (starred)"A multilayered story with many wonderful characters . . . highly recommended."—VOYA (5Q—highest rating)star "A richly textured novel of feelings and ideas."—Kirkus Reviews (starred)

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Pharaoh's Daughter: A Novel of Ancient Egypt 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
wdjeffus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about the story of Moses seen through his sisters eyes. It goes through how she doesn't feel that her mother loves her or as if she belongs where she is. She gets a chance to live in the pharaohs home to take care of Moses and loves the lifestyle. In the end, family is more important that any worldly things.
DawnFechter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Grade 9-12. This is a retelling of the story of Moses through the eyes of his sister who watched over him when he is in the basket. The first half of the book is told through Almah eyes and the second half is told though Moses eyes. Moses is raised as the privileged grandson of the Pharaoh and grows up with three mothers. One is his older sister Almah, Batya the pharaoh¿s daughter who saved him from death and his own mother Ima. Almah leaves her people to become a priestess of the goddess Hathor in the Pharaohs palace. Moses is torn between the beliefs of the Pharaoh and his sister and that of his own family and the Hebrew people. Now Moses really has a spilt identity of being a grandson to the pharaoh who believes in many Gods or a Hebrew who believes in one God. Moses commits an act of murder and his fate is decided for him. You get to see the story thought his sister Almah and Moses. This book is an interesting retelling of the story of Moses.
adriannebaker85 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Julius Lester has created a story around a story in his novel ¿Pharaoh¿s Daughter¿. Using the biblical text and his own research as a reference, Lester pulled out a creative fiction piece about the older sister of Moses and her experiences. The story starts in the `present¿ time and then proceeds to flashback and tell the story up to the `present¿ moment. Almah is Moses¿ (Tuthmosis) older sister who meets Pharaoh¿s favourite daughter Princess Meryetamun during the time of the killings of the Hebrew first-born male babies. They become friends and eventually the Princess takes Moses as her own child and he, Almah and Ima (Almah and Moses¿ mother) to the Woman¿s Palace where they live until he is grown. The novel tells their story in detail.This story is a departure from the traditional Christian tale of Moses. Roles have changed, characters have been added, plot additions and twists have been tossed in for intrigue, and so on. I enjoyed reading this young adult novel, although it was hard for me to distance myself from the traditional story that I know so well. There is a lot of female nudity mentioned which could be controversial in a library setting, but Lester explains in the Author¿s Note about his intentions and why he chose to include it. I appreciate that he took the time to explain himself.
raizel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lester invents another sister for Moses; she lives in the Egyptian court and feels more comfortable with the Egyptian world view than the Jewish one. The book is a modern midrash done before Julius Lester knew the term. The note at the end explains all the research and thought that went into the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was in elementary school. And for a long time the story has stuck with me since then. Loved the book. It was one of the reasons I started reading more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i read the book for school and its so amzing i recomend this book to every body.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i love this book. i first read it back in jr high when i was about 11. and i have never forgotten this book. it is meant for the mature children who understand the art of the written word, and the importance of an open mind. those who are open to new ideas should get this book and share it with those they love. the story, whether it be fact or fiction, is true to ones heart. also, read this book with an open heart, and leave the bible out of it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I didnt think the Author did that great of a job with the book. I thought the cover was great but the story wasnt. This should have been Miriams story. And they add an extras sister who doesn't exist.I also thought they would have Moses leading the people out of Egypt years later.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I didn't like this book at all. It seemed too mature for the ages suggested of 12 and up. There were numerous references to nudity in this book and at the end where was more nudity but there was no warning in the jacket cover regarding this. It was mentioned by the author after the story, not in the prelude. At the end it do not say any thing about her brother and her family. This book can hurt womans and girls a lot. Do not get this book. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is about the life of an hebrew girl that becomes a beloved person in the palace. this is the best book that i have ever read . it is very nice the way that they show the thoughts of moses and his sister's .your going to love this book
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow.. I was really hooked by reading this book. I just could not put the book down. Eventually, I finished this book in 3 days. While reading this book, I revealed a lot of opinons I never thought I had. I think the author had done tremendous research about the ancient times in Egypt. I thank the author so much for writing this novel. Now I am a fan of historical fiction books. The ending, I really wanted to know what had happened to Mosises and I thought it'd be a happy ending with the family uniting again and living happily forever. But the author didn't do that and left it hanging. I thought that was more interesting and it also made me think about what will happen to Moises next. It was very worth reading that book for 3 days ^^ I really recommend this book to everyone. It is a GREAT book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Pharaho's Daughter was one of the best books ive ever read. It was easy reading and kept u turning the pages. I never wanted to put it down. I think almost anyone would enjoy this should buy it!:)
Guest More than 1 year ago
i think that you should read tihs book because its very fun to read. i read it 3 times and i dont read unles i have to. it made my wish i could go to egypt in anciet times and be just like almah. its very exciting and everytime i read it i learn something new about ancient egypt. its so interesting. it makes you feel like you realy are her and you get lost in the ancient land.
Guest More than 1 year ago
omg this is the only book i read on my own. it makes you feel like your almah and wish you were really there in egypt. it inspired me to write a book like it. i did and i like it alot mabey ill get it published. but ya u gotsta read dis book its tite like dat. haha
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was my favorite book, it was the only book i actualy read on my own. i read it at least 4 times and everytime i learn something new. if your interested in ancient egypt, or just a good story you gota read this! it gives a great picture in your mind and opens your imagination to the ancient and exhillerating world. i would definatley suggest this book to especaily people who dontlike to read but have to read a book or soemthing. its especially interesting to young adaults.
Guest More than 1 year ago
BUY THIS BOOK TODAY!!!!! IT IS THE BEST! Some parts are happy, some are sad.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think Julius Lester took a hard topic, and turned it into an excellent story. One can understand why Mosis felt so torn between the contrasting cultures. I didn't really like that part about the dancing, but the rest was fine. You end up feeling sorry for the Pharaoh and Mosis in the end, Almah too. I'll never know how Almah put up with losing her brother, and having to live next to Asetnefret's daughter. I think I would have smacked that daughter, or Asetnefret. BUY this Book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pharoah's Daughter is a great book. It is also pretty sad. I really feel sorry for the main character, Almah, because she and her true family don't get along very well. The author must have put a lot of work into this book. It is a lot more believable than some other Moses stories, like The Prince of Egypt. (That movie was good, but still...)This book is just great You have to read it!