Nobody knew for sure what the A-Z meant. Perhaps it referred to the fact that all sorts of strange things—everything from A to Z—were sold in the store. Or perhaps it had something to do with the owner's name. However, no one seemed to know for sure what his name actually was. (1.3)
The entire antiques shop is mysterious, from the name to the owner to the owner's name. There's a whole alphabet of uncertainty when it comes to the details of his story.
"Do you like to read?" Melanie asked. "Reading is my favorite occupation." "That's for sure." Mrs. Ross laughed. "A full-time occupation with overtime. Your grandmother tells me that you do a lot of reading, too." (3.27-28)
Melanie may not share April's love of false eyelashes or bouffant hairstyles, but she does have one thing in common with her new neighbor: they both love to read. Their shared thirst for knowledge helps them become fast friends.
Actually Melanie knew that April was showboating, but it occurred to her that it was probably because of homesickness. It was easy to see how much she'd like to be back in Hollywood with her mother. (3.25)
April thinks that she's pulling one over Melanie and Mrs. Ross when she fabricates a glamorous life in Los Angeles, but Melanie sees right through it. She's observant, but she's also compassionate, and she lets April keep on bragging to help her get over her homesickness.
So when Toby started asking questions about the things on the altars and about Set and Isis, Melanie started giving straight answers. At first April poked her and frowned in a way that said not to give everything away, but after a while she changed her mind and started answering questions, too. (13.24)
The girls are nervous about Toby and Ken joining the game at first, but then they show real interest in learning about ancient Egypt and about what the girls have done so far. A little admiration goes a long way.
As they were all leaving, a little before 5:30, Toby asked the girls to write down the names of some of the best books about Egypt. He said he was going to the library that evening to check some out. (13.30)
Toby's so psyched on the Egypt Game that he even voluntarily does some reading outside of school in order to catch up to the girls. It's clear that an eager beaver like that will be a good addition to the game.
In real Egyptian times, he said, the preparation of the dead and the funeral ceremony took as much as forty days. Theirs wouldn't take that long, but maybe it would last as much as five or six days. He said that before he could really get started, they were going to need a lot of supplies… (15.11)
Apparently Toby's preferred research area was, um, preparing mummies. Which is a little creepy, but it comes in handy when he needs to lead the kids in the burial of Elizabeth's beloved parakeet. They're going to do this the right way. Thanks for the mummy research, Toby.
So Toby asked a question about oracles and sure enough it worked. He'd picked on a subject that Mrs. Granger could really get her teeth into. She got that gleam in her eye and started out full blast, and Toby settled back, feeling sure she was good for the rest of the time until recess. (16.2)
The Egypt Game even has the kids more involved in school. They're suddenly way more interested in learning more about history—especially if it's something that they can use in their game.
Toby Alvillar struggled with his conscience. He thought and worried and thought; and at last he broke down and did something entirely against his principles—he called up a girl. When April answered, all he said was, "Look, I got to talk to you and Ross tomorrow early. Meet you out by the parallel bars first recess. Can't talk now—party line." (19.1)
Toby's not one to admit defeat—especially not to a bunch of girls. But he knows when he has to rely on Melanie and April for their wisdom and insight. That's why he comes to them about the oracle business. Now that's wisdom.
They read about Egypt at the library during the day, and at home in the evening, and in bed late at night when they were supposed to be asleep[...] In a very short time they had accumulated all sorts of fascinating facts about tombs and temples, pharaohs and pyramids, mummies and monoliths, and dozens of other exotic topics. (4.3)
April and Melanie just can't cram enough knowledge about Egypt into their heads. And every single book about ancient Egypt at the library is a whole lotta knowledge.
Then, because their book on Egyptian writing told them hieroglyphics were considered magical works of art as well as writing, and because they were always done in many bright colors, it was decided that some sets of colored pens were necessary. (14.14)
The kids don't just make up their hieroglyphic system from scratch: they do the necessary background research in order to learn about what hieroglyphics meant and how they were drawn in ancient Egypt. That type of in-depth research makes any project successful. That, plus a giant pile of bright markers.