THE LAST MAPMAKER, by Christina Soontornvat, Candlewick, April 12, 2022, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 8-12)
A young girl sets out to map the world and make a name for herself in Christina Soontornvat’s high-seas adventure, The Last Mapmaker.
As assistant to Mangkon’s most celebrated mapmaker, 12-year-old Sai plays the part of a well-bred young lady with a glittering future. In reality, her father is a conman — and in a kingdom where the status of one’s ancestors dictates their social position, the truth could ruin her.
Sai seizes the chance to join an expedition to chart the southern seas, but she isn’t the only one aboard with secrets. When Sai learns that the ship might be heading for the fabled Sunderlands — a land of dragons, dangers, and riches beyond imagining — she must weigh the cost of her dreams. —Synopsis provided by Candlewick Press
The Last Mapmaker has been sitting in my to-read pile for way too long. In fact, if I had known how good it was, it would have jumped to the top of my pile.
Set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, The Last Mapmaker entices all the senses. Author Christina Soontornvat’s prose is warm and inviting. There’s an authenticity to her writing that lets you know she has explored Sai’s world time and time again.
And what a world to explore. Soontornvat’s world-building is fantastic. You can feel the boat rocking, hear the waves crash, taste the saltwater on your lips, smell the brackish water and see Sai’s maps come to life.
This tale is as much of a personal journey as it is a physical one. Sai’s story begins with her hiding who she really is. Her goal is to gain a footing in society, but as things progress, her focus changes. And when she embraces herself for who she is, she shines.
The Last Mapmaker is a fast-moving, thought-provoking adventure. It offers the perfect summer getaway without leaving the comfort of home. It’s one of my Top 10 middle-grade reads this year.
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