Maïa of Thebes: 1463 B.C.
This is the story of Maïa, a thirteen-year-old girl living in 1463 B.C. when Egypt was ruled by the woman pharaoh Hatshepsut. Maïa and her brother are orphans. They live with their stingy uncle, who is a priest, and their shrewish aunt, who treats Maïa more as a slave than a niece. She envies her brother who escapes each day to the House of Life where he is training to be a scribe. Maïa yearns for a better life, away from the drudgery of servitude, so whenever they find time for themselves, her brother teaches her what he has learned. Then, one night, she discovers her uncle has been stealing grain from the temple. Deeply superstitious, she turns him in, only to find out it is even more dangerous to offend the priests than to offend the gods. The resourceful Maïa must use all her skills—not just writing, but cool-headedness, bravery, and mercy—if she wants to save her family and herself. This is an interesting peek into a girl’s life in ancient Egypt, showing a strong character who gets herself into a bit of an ethical dilemma. It’s well-suited to the 9-12 age range. Recommended.