BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Book Title: The Mapmakers' Race
Author: Eirlys Hunter
Publisher: Gecko Press
Publication Date: July 2018
Most Suitable For: Years 4-6
There is always something appealing about books with maps. There is also a great appeal to books with a race-against-time quest to complete. The Mapmakers’ Race by Eirlys Hunter hits the mark on both of these levels, as a thrilling adventure story with a pacy quest narrative, an unfaltering sense of jeopardy and illustrated maps for every chapter of the journey.
The four siblings in the Santander family find themselves in a tricky situation. After their explorer father disappeared, the family decides to enter the Great Race. This competition challenges explorers to map a new railway route through uncharted wilderness, with a sizeable monetary prize of 3500 golden guineas that will help the family to survive without their father. The advantage should be theirs, as Ma is a famous mapmaker. Unfortunately, Ma gets accidentally lefts behind at the train station en route and the siblings have little choice but to plough on with their trip without her.
None of the other contenders take the children seriously, but the siblings pool their varied skills and resources and embark upon their quest along with their parrot (called Carrot) and their new friend Beckett. The four siblings are each very different and I particularly enjoyed the character of Francie, who does not speak but is immensely talented in charting maps.
Naturally there are perils at every turn, from the dangerous landscape to the treacherous weather to the sabotage attempts by unscrupulous rival teams of adults. Can the resourceful children manage to complete the journey against all odds and win the prize money their family needs?
This is an exciting adventure narrative with a real against-the-clock feel to it and a steam-age fantasy setting that fans of Vashti Hardy’s Brightstorm are likely to enjoy.
See also our guest blog post by author Eirlys Hunter about how her childhood experiences inspired the story.
Many thanks to the publisher for kindly sending me a review copy of this book.