The Gypsy Game
Book gyp 1997
First Edition Cover
First Published: 1997
Identifier: ISBN 0385322666
Pages: 224
More Details
Chapter Summaries
List of Characters
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The Gypsy Game is a book by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, first published in 1997. It is a sequel to The Egypt Game.


According to the dedication on the first page, the book was written for the readers "who asked for another game with the same players". The story starts right where the previous book has left off, and uses the same set of characters. This time, instead of Egyptians, the six children plan an imaginative game involving Gypsies. However, they never get to play the game: one of them becomes the subject of a custody dispute between his eccentric artist father and his wealthy, conservative grandparents, and under the extreme pressure, he runs away to begin a life on the street. The kids discover that what might seem like fun may not be so entertaining in real life, and decide to abandon their game, taking on real-world responsibilities.

Plot SummaryEdit

April Hall raises the possibility of a game about Gypsies, after getting tired of that about Egyptians. She tells the idea to her friends, who are all enthusiastic. One of the six kids, Toby Alvillar, reveals that he is of Gypsy ancestry, and invites the others to his home, so his father could confirm his words.

The children meet in the play area to sort out the aspects of the game; they research the subject thoroughly, and re-decorate the yard to resemble a Gypsy camp instead of an Egyptian temple. However, they have several arguments, unable to decide who should take which role. They are joined by a stray dog, whom they call Bear, and keep him in the yard.

Not long after, it becomes apparent that Toby is in some kind of trouble; and soon April and Melanie learn that the boy has run away from home. Soon, the entire neighborhood knows the news and everyone is worried; the children are questioned by the school's principal, but no one can find out anything. The next day, they find Toby sleeping in the storage yard which is now the "Gypsy Camp", and he reveals that he ran away because his grandparents want to take custody of him, taking him away from his father, and that his father is in danger. Shortly after, he is forced to leave the yard as well, as some detectives are on his track, and finds shelter in the basement of an abandoned church, where other homeless people live.

April and Melanie have a disagreement about the "Gypsy Game"; Melanie reveals that she is not really fond of it, mainly because the Gypsies were persecuted people. They argue, but make up the next day, as both of them are worried about Toby, and want to help each other in the search for him. The next day, the five children are led by Bear to Toby's hideout, where they meet him, but the boy refuses to return home, as he believes that his return would put his father in danger.

April and Melanie decide to talk with Andre Alvillar to find out more details about Toby's story. Meanwhile, Toby is convinced by Vince, one of the homeless people living in the abandoned church, to go home. Toby and Andre are reunited, and the boy's grandparents are convinced to give up their claim. Eventually, the kids decide to abandon the idea of the "Gypsy Game", claiming that Gypsy life is too sad and depressing to make a game out of it. Toby tells them about the homeless people living under the abandoned church, and the others agree to start a project to raise money for them, while Andre tries to find them a place to live.


The Gypsy Game got less favorable reviews than its prequel, The Egypt Game, as instead of imagination, excitement and magic, the author focuses on social issues and on teaching moral lessons.


The Gypsy Game got a Starred Review in Publishers Weekly[1].


"The plotting is not quite as tight, with the author taking a circuitous route around the mystery to allow for the discussion of social issues like homelessness; and Toby, a central figure here, is not developed quite as compellingly as April in The Egypt Game. But these are differences of small degrees, and the work continues to offer Snyder's well-nigh irresistible combination of suspense, wit and avowal of the imagination. The book's gratifying denouement leads the way for a third installment for readers to eagerly await."[1]

- Publishers Weekly, Starred Review, 1997

"Limited character development, a vague setting, and frequent references to events in Snyder's The Egypt Game make this title most accessible to fans of the earlier book. Although Snyder has skillfully updated some aspects of her original story, her characters seem oddly sheltered. (...) Snyder injects a contemporary (and hopeful) note by having her characters translate their discomfort into a resolve to help some present-day "gypsies": the homeless people whom Toby encountered as a runaway. With all the action, information, and emotion packed into the novel, it is little wonder that Snyder relies upon her readers to be already familiar with characters and setting, and it is for them that this companion book will have the most appeal."[1]

- School Library Journal, 1997

"Readers who thrilled to the magic and mystery of the costumes, ceremonies, and pharaoh's curses in The Egypt Game will find themselves drawn to and intrigued by the jewelry, colorful clothes, and fortune-telling in this adventure."[2]

- The Horn Book Magazine

"The book is more concentrated on plot than on characterization, with cliffhanger chapter endings and suspense. (...) Put down one book and pick up the other, and this new story works. Otherwise, the dubiousness of kids of varying ages playing together and dearth of helpful background relegate this to a just-average mystery."

-Kirkus Reviews

"The multicultural and age-diverse gang of characters retains much of its original charm."

-Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"The characters, plot, and setting are realistic and kids should find this mystery of why Toby ran away to be a page-turner."[2]

- Children's Literature


The Egypt Game was first published in 1997 by Delacorte, and at least five English language editions are known, as well as a Teacher's Guide[1].

Publication HistoryEdit

The following English language editions are known:

Related PublicationsEdit

  • The Gypsy Game Teacher's Guide (Zilpha Keatley Snyder), Yearling, 1998, ISBN 0440794358


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Information on
  2. 2.0 2.1 Random House teacher's guide

See AlsoEdit