Study Guide

The Egypt Game Chapter 1

By Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Chapter 1

The Discovery of Egypt

  • First, a little setting the scene. This story takes place in a university town in California, on a street called Orchard Avenue. So far so good.
  • Next, a spot of intrigue. The street is home to a rather shabby antique shop run by a mysterious old man who everyone just refers to as the Professor—since they don't know what his real name is. A nameless professor? My oh my.
  • The neighborhood around the antique shop is filled with diverse families and their kids. All the kids spend time playing outside together—regardless of race—and they're all a bit afraid of the Professor. When you've got a common fear, that makes ignoring your differences a lot easier, after all.
  • Bottom line: the Professor is creepy, no one knows much about him except that he stares at children in stony silence, and people leave him the Shmoop alone.
  • But the Professor is the only person who witnesses the beginning of the Egypt Game. One day he looks out his window and sees three kids walking into a fenced-off storage yard.
  • There's an African-American girl and her little brother, and a blonde girl named April who has recently moved into the neighborhood.
  • The little boy has a plush octopus with him that he won't let go of. The Professor intends to watch them (hey, better than chasing them away), but a customer walks in and he has to leave.
  • Later, he returns to the window and sees that the kids have set up a shrine to a bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti. Um, not your average backyard game. They're also cleaning up the rest of the yard and making adjustments.
  • The Professor is called away from his window again, and when he returns all the children have gone home. So much for spying.

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