The Golden Goblet
Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Puffin
1961
Newbery Honor Book

The Golden Goblet is an older book that might be easy to overlook–but don’t pass it by! Set in ancient Egypt, The Golden Goblet tells the story of young Ranofer, an orphan who desperately wants to be a goldsmith. It’s not that he doesn’t have talent; no, it’s that his stepbrother (Gebu) is cruel and refuses to pay to apprentice him to a goldsmith. In fact, Ranofer is a lowly worker in a goldsmith’s shop until he discovers Gebu’s thievery. Once the deception is brought to the attention of the goldsmith, Ranofer is sent to work in the stonecutter’s shop–a job that poses risk of harm to Ranofer’s skilled artisan fingers in addition to its other hardships.

I really enjoyed the window into ancient Egyptian culture that McGraw gives us in this book. Their religious belief system, their superstitions, their cultural hierarchies and practices–all are presented clearly and without didacticism (you don’t “feel” like you’re learning–it’s just part of the story). Ranofer is a great character and demonstrates tremendous bravery as well as perseverance. In the end, he is rewarded for his hard work. McGraw wrote Mara, Daughter of the Nile as well, which I hear is even better!

Book borrowed from a friend; cover image from goodreads

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