Egyptian Book Reviews: Secret of The Mummies & Travel Photography

Book Review

Book Review

by Mary Kay Radnich

Secrets of the Mummies

Shelley Tanaka
Illustrations by Greg Ruhl
A Scholastic/Madison Press Book
Scholastic, INC.

March 2000

This month was the annual Book Fair at my daughter's school. So, being a good mom, I volunteered my services for a morning. In the school computer lab turned bookstore, right across from my seat at the checkout desk, was this neat looking children's book, Secrets of the Mummies. Of course, I had to take it off the shelf and somehow, mysteriously, it ended up in my daughter's order of books. (Gee, wonder who put it in there?)

This little full-color paperback is full of interesting information and stories of mummies, specifically some of the famous ones, such as TUT and Rameses II as well as some not-so-famous mummies, a teenager named Nakht and a young woman called Djed, followed by stories of them.

Nakht was a young boy, a weaver, when he died. Because of poor crops the last two years of his life, he most likely suffered from malnourishment, a tapeworm and malaria, which was probably what killed him. We know this from scientists studying the remains of his mummy, which reveals this information, as explained in the book.

Ramses II's nose was propped up with a bone to enhance his kingly profile and filled with peppercorns, to reawaken his sense of smell. Both of these tidbits of information was revealed via x-rays of his head and are very visible in the accompanying photographs.

And poor Djed, she was a woman with bad teeth and apparently, constant, killing toothaches. This information, too, was determined by x-raying her mummy, without disturbing it in any way.

Stories and interpretations aside, what is most impressive about this little book is the photographs and graphics. All aspects of the mummification process as well as highlights of the individuals' lives are well illustrated and impressive.

Note: The edition of the book that I reviewed was published for distribution through the school market only. However, the book is available through and your local bookstore.

A Guide To Taking Better Pictures

Richard I'Anson
A Lonely Planet Publication
October 2000

You've got your ticket in your travel bag, your itinerary in your pocket for the trip of a lifetime to Egypt and you dearly desire to come home with National Geographic quality, Pulitzer Prize winning photographs, with which to impress your friends and relatives. Deep in your soul, you know that the ancient Brownie camera, the old Kodak 110 Instamatic, your daughter's Barbie camera and that old Polaroid just won't deliver. Or maybe you're like me, you have an assortment of mismatched 35mm equipment and you realize that your eyes are not as young as they used to be (as evidenced by your new bifocals) and that manual focusing is no longer high on your list of talents. Not to mention the endless assortment of questions regarding composition, lighting, focusing and depth of field.

Regardless of your status as an amateur photographer, the question is: To where do you turn for help? As always, Lonely Plant Publications has come to the rescue with TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: A Guide To Taking Better Pictures by Richard I'Anson.

This pocket-sized, full-color, comprehensive, 222-page photography guide is one of the best solutions to the amateur travel photographer's woes that I have seen in a long time. Fully illustrated with color photographs (and the illustrations are gorgeous, although small), the author draws on his vast experience as a professional travel photographer and willingly shares many tricks of the trade with his readers. One of the most enlightening aspects of the book is that he not only describes various good and bad shots to you, he has presented color examples contrasts, if you will of both. A good shot vs. a bad shot, of the same subject. And each photograph is captioned with the author's comments regarding the success of the picture as well as the type of equipment and film that was used.

Every topic that you could possibly think of in travel photography is covered. Visiting a market? How to get the best shots. Can't use a flash inside a mosque or monument? What to do to capture the best picture. Want to photograph those charming local children but don't know how to approach them? It's in there. And the burning question in all photographer's hearts what film should I use to make my photo of those mountain peaks look more three dimensional? The author has an answer for you.

My only criticism of the book? Well, put it this way. We need to take up a collection to send Mr. I'Anson to Egypt. By the absence of any photographs of Egypt, it's obvious that he has never been there!

If you want to take your travel photography seriously, or just need a few new tips and inspiration, I highly recommend TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY. Small enough to fit in your pack yet thorough enough to leave no question unanswered, you can't go wrong with a $16.99 investment in this book.

Video Visits, Egypt

Land of Ancient Wonders
ISBN 1-56345-106-9
International Video Network
A Division of NN Communications, Inc.

2246 Camino Ramon, Star Ramon, CA 94583
107 Power Road, Chiswick, London W4 5PL

Buy any standard, one is much better off with a good guidebook then this video, which is basically the video equivalent of a guidebook. Yet, I did enjoy it. While the information is rather sketchy compared to a guidebook (well, more than just rather sketchy), the street scenes in Cairo, of Alexandria and the upper Nile were good. Perhaps I liked it best just because it is different then the usual fare that concentrates strictly on the mysteries of the Pyramids and Sphinx. It did remind me of being in Egypt, and it is an easy introduction for people planning a trip, provided they understand the film's limitations. For those taking children to Egypt who may be hesitant to dig into reading about Egypt, it provides some orientation.

One simply cannot fit into a 58-minute tape the information needed to really experience Egypt. For example, the Sinai was barely touched upon, and interestingly, a significant time was given to Alexandria, which, while an important destination, received a disproportionate amount of coverage. Perhaps in the future, some company may make a series of travel tapes on Egypt that might more adequately cover what is a huge topic.

From the standpoint of quality, the tape is very good, appearing to have been made recently and with good equipment. The pictures are crisp and clear and the sound is fine. And perhaps one of the best things about the tape is the fact that it can be rented from many video stores (I found it at Hollywood Video), at a price that is usually less than most other rentals.