I was informed that the granddaughter had become interested in Egyptian mythology, so I decided to buy her a book on the topic. It's hard to know what to put in the hands of a young lady whose reading level is astonishing but who is just eight years old. I visited the "young adult" quarters at our local library and withdrew four books on the subject. Which one to buy?
The first book that I looked at was clearly inappropriate. It read as though it had been condensed out of the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica. Hard words, unelucidated, and a patronizing, paleocolonialist point of view. The next book was too simple -- all pictures and treacle. The third book, a retelling of the story of Isis and Osiris, was moving along nicely until Seth tore the body of Osiris into fourteen pieces and scattered them all over the landscape. "When Isis heard this, she paddled over the swamps in a little boat looking for the fragments of Osiris to put them back together again and make them whole. After much searching she found all the parts of Osiris except his phallus which had been swallowed by a fish." Can this story be recommended for eight-year-olds. Would it be appropriate for Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers?
Call me squeamish if you must. Diagnose me with an advanced case of castration anxiety. Stigmatize me as indifferent to the profound Jungian significance of this gruesome story. Say what you will -- I do not want to explain phallophagia to the young lady. Frankly, I don't even want to explain "phallus."
Book number four seemed to be acceptable and I have purchased a copy of it. I hope I made a good decision. Book number four is about Egyptian religion, not Egyptian mythology ("mythology" is an unquestionably loaded and derogatory word).
The book might be a little hard for the granddaughter and it might be a little too detailed. I'm hoping that she skims or skips the section of the book that describes Egyptian embalming techniques. "Inner organs were usually dried after removal and placed in special containers called canopic jars. The embalmer's tools included a spirally curved copper hook for breaking the ethmoid bone in the back of the nose to remove the brain, which was then discarded."
Eeew, as they say nowadays.
Perhaps I am just a tad squeamish.