Young Ranofer is the son of Thutra, master goldsmith. When Thutra died, poor Ranofer was left to the not-so-tender mercies of his half-brother, Gebu, a hulking brute who deals out insults and beatings with little provocation. Ranofer's life is barely tolerable working in Rekh's goldsmith shop, but until he can be apprenticed, his job is a dead-end and he must turn over all his earnings to Gebu. Worse, he has noticed that his brother has been growing rich and suspects he may be stealing. But even if Ranofer manages to get proof, who will believe a boy like him against the word of a man like Gebu? He'll need help of his quick-witted friend Heqet and the kindly one-eyed Ancient if he ever hopes to escape from Gebu's tyranny.
The Golden Goblet is a splendidly written tale meant for young readers age 10 and up. It does exactly what all good historical fiction is supposed to do--effortlessly transport the reader to another time and place. McGraw expertly paints a portrait of everyday life in ancient Egypt, focusing on the nitty-gritty of existence among the common artisans and laborers rather than the opulence of the Pharoah's court. I particularly enjoyed her use of humor and thought that the good-natured, wise-cracking character of Heqet was very well drawn. I certainly could do no better, as the monkey with a stylus said to the scribe.
So this book is a winner and should be widely read. It's a good introduction to ancient Egypt for kids who are learning about it. McGraw certainly knows her history and she presents it in a way that is easily accessible for young readers.