2014 Literary Classics Silver Medal Winner for PreTeen/Tween
Literary Classics 2014 Seal of Approval
When 15-year-old Rosa agrees to help the ghost of King Tut find his lost queen Hesena, she doesn't count on falling for him. And once back in Ancient Egypt, Rosa discovers that finding Hesena is not all she must do: She must keep out of the reach of the living Horemheb—who crosses mortal boundaries using Seth's evil magic—if she is to stay alive to make it back home.
Sons of the Sphinx is based on the schism that shot through ancient Egypt when, according to historians, the Pharaoh Akhenatenturned his back on Thebes and the gods of Egypt. He built his own city to honor his god the Aten, and he insisted that the people of Egypt do the same. Along with this, he supposedly refused to send troops to defend Egypt's borders thus incurring the wrath of the then General Horemheb. When Tutankhamen becomes pharaoh, he reverses Akhenaten's proclamations and returns the governing center to Thebes and the worship back to the god Amun.
However, the damage has been done, and by the time Horemheb attains pharaoh status, he has proclaimed the betrayal of the Egyptian people by Akhenaten so widely and so much, all members of the family including Tutankhamen and Ankhsenamun and Ay are dishonored. Horemheb further insults the family by defacing Ay's tomb after his death. It is Ay's decision before his death to ensure that Ankhsenamun is not subject to dishonor by keeping her final resting place a secret.
The historical significance of my story is the main reason I was able to write Sons of the Sphinx. Needing to help right a wrong done over 3000 years ago and reunite the boy king with his queen (whose tomb has yet to be identified or found), allows my protagonist Rosa the opportunity to come to terms with who she is and what her place is in this world.
February 28th Sons of the Sphinx FREE!
I’m a twice-retired high school (ages 14-18) English teacher from Colorado having taught for 25 years. I love working with my students, and now I write for middle graders and early teens. My books are written for reluctant readers, but are enjoyed by any who love adventures and quests. It is my love of the ancient and medieval worlds that provides my settings for my stories.
Hi! I’m Rosa. I’m 15 years old and a sophomore in high school. I’m your typical teenager—well, almost. I don’t have many friends anymore, but it’s hard to blame the other kids. If I was them, I’d probably steer clear of me too, at least most of the time. No one is ever mean to me; I’ve grown up with most of them, and on my bad days, they try to ignore me. Wish I could do the same to those who talk to me. Mostly I just shake my head and carry on.
What conflict are you up against?
OMG. That is a loaded question. I mean, I’m 15. Conflicts are part of my daily life! Passing my classes. Trying to get a date for school dances. Dealing with Nana’s gift nearly every day while I try not to lose my mind.
Oh, I bet you’re talking about in the story. Right, I should have known that. Well, without giving too much away, my ability to hear dead people talk pits me against an evil man, introduces me to the most handsome boy I’ve ever seen, and puts my life in danger. Sounds great doesn’t it? Nope. Not at all.
What is your strongest personality trait?
That would have to be my sarcastic humor. When you have a gift like mine, you need something to fall back on. Here are a few instances of it:
“It would be something to tell my, my…Right, I could tell the kids in my classes that I went to ancient Egypt with the ghost of King Tut. Can you hear the death knell? Bring out the strait jacket.”
“Most girls I know have had at least one boyfriend and have even gone on dates, even it is was with a group of kids. Me, the last time I held hands with a boy was in the fourth grade. We went on a trip to the zoo, and I had to hold hands with red-headed Erik as the we crossed the road…How sad it that?”
“In front of me is desert, sand, open sky, and heat for as far as I can see. Already sweat is starting to run down my face and neck. I thought gym class was bad. I’m not even moving here, and it’s as if a river is coursing through me. I sweat more standing still in this country than I ever did playing basketball.”
If you could change one thing in this world, what would you change?
I would make it so my Nana was still alive. I know that sounds self-centered, but she left me with her gift and didn’t give me any advice. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with it. It scares me, really scares me sometimes. I often wonder if she was ever scared. Now that I’ve been through this experience, I long to talk with her about it—to see if there is a way to go out and do good with it, not just wait around and see what happens.
Excerpt from Chapter 6 of Sons of the Sphinx by Cheryl Carpinello
A tall man stands and motions at the door. His lips are moving, but I can’t hear a word. A cone-shaped hat sits on his head and a kilt-like garment swishes against his legs. Light sparkles off the huge jeweled necklace that rests on his bare chest. It appears to sway as he breathes. Good thing the necklace is pretty because he is ugly. Oops, I’m not supposed to say that. But talk about an unattractive man. It’s his nose—so square and large—that really makes him that way.
Sitting next to him is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. Black hair frames her delicate face, an older version of Ankhesenamun’s, and earrings shaped as gold eyes dangle from her tiny ears. Her bare shoulders sparkle like glitter above a golden gown that flows down her slender body. It is gathered at the waist with a jewel-encrusted belt. She looks stunning and totally unaffected by the huge elephant.
“Who are those two?” I ask, nodding my head in their direction. Tut averts his eyes from the scene in front of us.
“That is my father, Akhenaten.”
“Oh.” I can’t seem to manage any more than that. They don’t really look like father and son, but then I don’t see the resemblance between my dad and me. My grandmother always said I favored him.
“And that is his wife and Hesena’s mother, Nefertiti.”
Well, you could knock me over with a feather. This is the most talked about queen in all of Egyptian history. Everything I’ve read says that her beauty knows no comparison. The evidence stands right here in front of me.
I look back to Tut’s father. How in the world does someone that beautiful marry someone like that?
I’m having trouble taking all this in. Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tut, Hesena—and me—all in the same room, well sort of anyway. I’m beginning to wonder where I’m headed and how I’m going to get home. Nerves make my stomach flip uneasily.
Chills come over me like my blood is made up of ice water running throughout my body. I shiver. I try to shrink behind Tut. Evil. I remember how my grandmother would describe these feelings. Rosa, she would say. It feels like someone is walking over my grave. I would look at her, not understanding. She wasn’t dead. How in the world could someone walk over her grave? I know now. And whoever is doing the walking leaves evil in each of his footprints.
The king and the other Tut follow the elephant out a side door, and Hesena trails behind.
Nefertiti walks by, elegant and regal. Her imperial gaze halts any who might think to precede her. One by one, the people stand aside and bow their heads as she floats past. Her gaze sweeps over us, but it is not evil, just interested, as if she senses something where we stand.
“She can’t see us, can she?”
“No, Roosa. My people cannot see us. It is not allowed. Come, let’s follow,” he says. “I want to show you my father’s zoo.”
“Your father has a zoo! No way. No one owns a zoo, no...” I stop short. Tut’s image wavers before me. I suck in air, but my lungs feel empty. Pulsing blood thunders through my body. My fingers turn white at the knuckles as I clutch his hand. It’s as if I’ve just been punched in the stomach. Evil envelopes me, threatening to squeeze the life out of me. Please body, breathe! Am I dying? How can this be? No one can see us!