Home > Intermediate Fiction, Junior Fiction > The Mapmakers Race by Eirlys Hunter.

The Mapmakers Race by Eirlys Hunter.

May 6, 2018

mapmakerThe Mapmakers Race by Eirlys Hunter. Pub. Gecko Press, 2018

The best thing I liked about this novel for primary and intermediate school children is that characters have to get off their bottoms and do something. They have to contribute and work for the group otherwise they will not survive. There is no sitting around on their chrome books and moaning that there is nothing to do. The children are challenged.

The novel is about a race to map a route for a railway  from Grand Prospect to the coast across a mountainous landscape. Five teams take part with four of them being adult teams of various skills and ethics.

Then there is the Santanders, Sal age 14, twins Joe and Francie aged eleven, Humphrey who is just walking and talking and their talking parrot called Carrot whose one liners add humour and reality to the story. Add older boy Beckett who provides the donkeys and cooking skills and we have a team to be reckoned with.

The Santanders father has disappeared on a previous adventure and their mother missed the train and there isn’t another for a week. The race to map the rail route is on and waiting for mother is not an option.

The children have some advantages. Firstly no-one gives them a dog show of winning and secondly they are in survival mode and have skills that no other team has. They were well taught by their parents and Francie who can fly mentally. She never talks and her brain can see the landscape from above. She is the mapmaker.

The drawings at the head of each chapter keep the reader up with the pace and the plot advances in rollicking fashion. It reminds me of a cross between the family in Lemony Snicket and The Road to Ratenburg by Joy Cowley.

A first class read-a-loud for primary children and for individual reading. It’s all about survival and having fun at the same time.

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