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*Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh* by R.L. LaFevers, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka - middle grades book review
Also by R.L. LaFevers:

Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos

Also illustrated by Yoko Tanaka:

One Moon, Two Cats

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos
Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh
by R.L. LaFevers, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka
Ages 9-12 400 pages Houghton Mifflin April 2011 Hardcover    

Eleven-year-old Theodosia Throckmorten and her mother travel to Egypt to an archeological dig in this fourth novel of the Theodosia series. Her father stays behind at the museum he curates for an exhibit that’s just opened. Nor does her younger brother, Henry, accompany Theodosia and their mother.

Theodosia wants to return two priceless artifacts she’s carrying with her - an emerald tablet and the Orb of Ra - to a secret Egyptian society called the wedjadeen. As in the other novels of the series, she must also battle another secret society: the Serpents of Chaos.

Theodosia has the ability to remove curses from objects, and she is a member of the Brotherhood of Chosen Keepers, headed by Wigmere. She is supposed to rendezvous with a Mr. Bing, who will aid her in returning the artifacts.

However, her mother has her own agenda, and Theodosia sometimes has a difficult time going about her business while forced to remain relatively close to her mother (who thinks she is “peculiar”). How she gets around this predicament is often quite inventive and adds to the enjoyment of the novel.

I was a bit sad at first that Henry and Theodosia’s father weren’t in this novel, but the introduction of an orphaned Egyptian donkey boy with a pet monkey enlivens the story. At first, Theodosia believes that the boy, Gadji, is hunchbacked, but he just looks that way because the monkey is on his back under his robe.

Theodosia’s cat, Isis, comes along to Egypt. She doesn’t get along well at all with Gaji’s monkey, and Gadji calls her a “demon.” He doesn’t want to take handouts from Theodosia, but she convinces him to take the money and food she offers by asking him to be her guide when she and her mother travel to Luxor to the tomb of Thutmose III.

The problem is that the Serpents of Chaos have managed to obtain their itinerary and know their schedule. Theodosia must prevent them from getting the emerald tablet and the Orb of Ra while still trying to return them to where they belong. She must also convince her mother that Gadji isn’t just someone asking for handouts but is useful to their expedition.

When her mother and their helper, Narib, bring a bunch of donkeys to the stables where Theodosia has told Gadji he could stay, Theodosia gets the inspiration to tell her mother that he would make a great donkey boy for them. He indeed proves to be an invaluable help to them during the rest of their adventures.

Theodosia definitely leads an adventuresome life, and R.L LaFevers does an excellent job of bringing her and the other characters in the series to life with her writing. The illustrations by Yoko Tanaka really add a lot to the story, too.

Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh may be the best book yet in the series. It can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone novel, but I highly recommend reading all of the books in the series for great action, adventure, suspense, and the supernatural.
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  Douglas R. Cobb/2011 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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