Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life by P.J. Hoover

Fantastic Fiction

Bibliography

Hoover, P.J. (2014). Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life. New York, NY: A Tom Doherty Associates Book. ISBN 9780765334688

Plot Summary

After a battle in ancient times with his uncle Horemheb, King Tut and his uncle are both made immortal by the gods and “Tut” ends up living the next three thousand years as a 14-year old. The story follows him to present-day Washington, D.C. where is he trying to survive the 8th grade when mysterious things start happening. Tut comes to find out that his uncle has found him and is seeking revenge, but Tut goes on a journey to find revenge of his own before his uncle gets to him.

Critical Analysis

P.J. Hoover has crafted a fast-paced fantasy adventure based in an historical tale. King Tut was not buried in his tomb after all, but became immortal and ended up in present-day Washington, D.C. where he uses witty humor and an unlikely set of sidekicks to outwit his evil uncle. Hoover’s strengths lie in the multidimensional characters she has created. Tut is not just the boy king; he also has a softer side where he cares about the weird kid from class who becomes his friend and ends up in grave danger. In turn, that same weird kid from class is more than that as well: he turns out to be clever and daring, willing to risk his life to help Tut on his mission. Readers of this book will also benefit from Hoover’s ability to impart some factual knowledge without being too didactic. The author also does a good job of presenting a moral lesson without hitting readers over the head with it: the curse plaguing the city immediately disappears once Tut decides to give up on his revenge plot. In the end, the mighty Pharaoh who tradition dictates care mostly about himself, is more motivated by helping others and making things better for those around him. This overarching theme gives the reader a good feeling and allows a connection with the characters and an investment in the story so that the reader is pulling for Tut and his friends all the way until the end. The one weakness I found, if it can even be labeled as such, was the fact that Tut’s name was not really changed at all and yet people seemed to have no idea who he was or think it was weird at all that a modern day teen was named “Tut”. I suppose willing suspension of disbelief plays into this equation.

This book is listed as intended for grades 4-8 and the reading level is easy enough for those fourth graders without being too basic for eighth graders. Also, the fast-paced action will keep the older kids entertained. Older students will also be challenged to pick up on more nuances throughout the text. The book contains small hints at a romantic relationship and one split-second kiss, but nothing inappropriate for the fourth grade end of the suggested age range.

Tut will appeal to young adults by way of its unique subject matter. Fans of Percy Jackson will enjoy this book as well due to the mythology content. The fast-paced action and humor make the book appealing to boys, but the lack of crude humor will make it attractive to girls as well.

P.J. Hoover is a Texas-based author and has found recognition for this title on the Texas Lone Star List 2015 and in the Spirit of Texas Middle School Reading List 2015-2016, but it is easy to see this book garnering nationwide acclaim as well. As mentioned above, this book has been likened to Percy Jackson. That fact, plus the hint of a sequel in the closing pages leads one to believe it could be a popular title for some time. Turning this into a two book or even three book series would keep readers interested in the exciting adventures of King Tut and keep this title flying off shelves for the next several years. The resources in the back about King Tut, mummies, etc. also serve to make it an enduring title.

Activity

Pharaohs were entombed with things they thought they would need in the afterlife and with prized possessions.

Have each student determine what would accompany them in their tomb if they were to be mummified like a Pharaoh. Have them create an info-graphic using a Web 2.0 tool to display their choices and explain the rationale for each item.

Related Resources

King Tut Unwrapped DVD

Quilici, B. (Producer, Director), & Goldberg, R. (Writer). (2010). King Tut Unwrapped: Royal Blood [TV Mini-Series]. United States: Discovery Channel, Inc. Retrieved from: http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/other-shows/videos/other-shows-unwrapped-videos/

Quilici, B. (Producer, Director), & Goldberg, R. (Writer). (2010). King Tut Unwrapped: Life and Death [TV Mini-Series]. United States: Discovery Channel, Inc. Retrieved from:http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/other-shows/videos/other-shows-unwrapped-videos/

This series of videos available on the Discovery Channel website show an inside look at King Tut, using DNA testing and CT scans to learn more about the “Boy King”. These videos will fit well into a science lesson that relates to the novel.

National Geographic Website

National Geographic. (n.d.). Unravelling the Mysteries of King Tutankhamun. Retrieved July 7, 2015, from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2005/06/king-tut/mysteries/home

This is a virtual tour of King Tut’s tomb that has audio narration available. This would be good to pair with the book for a social studies or science lesson.

Published Review

Rico, M. (2014, September 1). [Review of the book Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life]. School Library Journal. Available online from SLJ through Book Verdict http://www.bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product2014-09-01-8331304.xml

Cover Picture Citation

Madson, J. (2014). Cover of Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Tut-Story-My-Immortal-Life/dp/0765334682/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436317994&sr=8-1&keywords=tut+the+story+of+my+immortal+life&pebp=1436317995022&perid=1H1DK53B397AYCV2280W

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