I was eight or nine years old and working my way through (not straight through, but rather fast-forwarding through) my maternal grandmother's old encyclopedia set which came into Mom's possession at Grandma's death.
Face to face I found myself with the mysterious - and to a child, rather scary - sphinx. Not like the one in the illustration above, but rather an old black and white picture of the Great Sphinx of Giza - before it had been dug out of centuries worth of sand.
I didn't know how to begin to pronounce the word. I had never encountered that mix of consonants in any of my school readers. Mom put her face close to mine so I could I watch her mouth, and she slowly pronounced it for me.
Egypt held an especial fascination for me, no doubt because I was fascinated (and terrified) by the old Universal Mummy movies. I still remember strolling up my grammar school librarian and asking for a book about mummies. She told me that subject was a bit too gruesome for children, but she did give me a child's mystery novel that involved a whispering mummy. Yay! (Not really.) It was some years later, as a teenager, that I was able to check out some real books on the subject at our large public library.
I didn't realize that the Sphinx of Giza was missing it's nose. That face haunted me and actually figured in a recurring nightmare that featured that face atop a mummy's wrapped body. As if that wasn't terrifying enough, the Sphmummy of my nightmares was as tall as a tree. (Boy, was I glad when I outgrew that dream!)
Sometimes I think I stretched my limits as a child. (Sometimes I probably still do.)