'Mapmaker' Book Club: Day 1

By: OwlCrate Jr

“Every day can be magical. If you’ve got a head on your shoulders, all you have to do is go out and see it.”

If you’ve ever found yourself longingly staring at a beautiful map in a fantasy book and wanting to jump inside, you’ll want to pick up a copy of our OwlCrate Jr September book pick: Mapmaker by Lisa Moore Ramée! 

Walt’s family has just moved from a life he loved in Los Angeles to boring Blackbird Bay, leaving behind his friends, his pastrami sandwich store, and his wonderfully imperfect mapmaking desk. He and his twin sister aren’t as close as they once were and he and his father are continually butting heads —Walt would much rather draw a map than run another football drill at summer camp! But Walt’s summer is going to get a whole lot more interesting when he discovers he not only has an ability to draw beautiful maps, but the power to create worlds … and destroy them!

Grab a copy, read along with us and join in the discussion! 

Reading Schedule: 

Part 1: Pages 1-98
Part 2: Pages 99-200
Part 3: Pages 201-End 

Take it away, Cheryl!

The Story Begins . . .

Walt is hiding in a tree.

Hiding from his father, who wants to send him to vile football camp this summer, from his twin sister Van, who he is butting heads with more lately, from his odd neighbour & landlord Ms. Wilhope (is she a witch?) and from his whole life in this new town of boring Blackbird Bay!

Then Walt falls out of the tree.

His father is annoyed at him for hiding and wants him to practice football drills all day and his sister is her usual irritating, perfect self. Walt’s frustrated that she has grown tall while he remains small. He is frustrated his dad won’t recognize his art and is pushing him into football instead. He is frustrated his mom won’t stick up for him. 

Frustrated Kill Me GIF


Escaping to his room, he takes solace in the plethora of maps he draws —especially his map of Djaruba, his prized creation. Today Walt decides to enhance a map of Blackbird Bay and starts drawing unique and exciting additions: a hill that looks like a butt, a winding creek, and an ancient rock wall submerged in a forgotten sand pit. 

travelling road trip GIF by PBS KIDS

Needing a break, Walt takes a bike ride to 7-Eleven to grab a slurpee, and plows right into a boy walking on the sidewalk! But all is okay as the boy, Dylan, is just fine. Better yet, turns out he too is a major fan of the video game Arch Angels and the two boys strike up a conversation while heading to 7-11. But the strangest thing happens on the way … that ancient stone wall and sandpit that Walt just drew on the map of Blackbird Bay? It’s now actually right here in front of him!! Even odder, Dylan says it has been here forever. Walt and Dylan soon get caught exploring the fenced-off ruins … by his sister, Van. Busted!

But Van decides to join the boys rather than turn them in and the trio continue on to 7-11.

Slurpee GIF by Sony Pictures Animation

Where things take an even stranger turn …

As Walt is examining a display rack of paper maps, he is accosted by a highway patrol officer, who thinks he is doing something wrong and aggressively grabs Walt! The store clerk comes to his aid, telling the officer, who’s name is Canter, that he is wrong about Walt. The clerk introduces himself as Orsten and informs Walt that he knows all about his Mapmaking abilities. Orsten then gives the map display rack a spin, which begins to spin faster and faster and then the whole 7-11 store begins to turn faster and faster!! Whaaaaat?! 

When everything finally stops spinning the 7-11 store has been replaced by an ancient, candlelit store with stone walls and shelves full of shimmering bottles of potions. Not to mention Orsten now has hooves, fuzzy ears, and horns! 

Confused Yetis GIF by True and the Rainbow Kingdom

Orsten and Canter are from another world and know all about mapmakers - those who have the ability to create and destroy worlds. They warn Walt that a mapmaker named Statica is hunting for Walt and has been destroying worlds on his quest to find him. Orsten and Canter seek Walt’s help in finding and stopping Statica. And since all mapmakers share a connection, they want Walt to use that connection to lead Canter to Statica.

With that brief explanation Orsten sends the kids out a side door, warns Walt not to do anymore mapmaking or creating or he’ll draw Statica’s notice, and the store returns to normal. Shell shocked, the trio return home to test out Walt’s ability, and he creates a dinosaur park in Blackbird Bay, completely ignoring Orsten’s warning. Walt and Van want to create even more but Dylan is adamant they stop. The kids part ways, each returning to their homes with plans to meet the next day.

At home, Walt has tea with his neighbour Ms. Wilhope who gifts him a compass from a geometry set that she claims will have the ability to hide him in map - simply by drawing a circle and getting inside… whatever that means! 

stop motion animation GIF by Kaho Yoshida

As if his day couldn’t get stranger, that night Walt wakes to the sound of creaking. In his map of Djaruba, the small sails of a windmill are spinning and a voice in his head is calling him to come to the windmill! Is it Statica?? Hearing something in the hallway, Walt is glad to run into his mom, and not the world-ending mapmaker! His mom talks to him and calms him down - aren’t mom’s great? - and then gives him gift … a time machine?! This strange contraption has three connected silver helmets, with attached goggles. Is this for real or is it a prop?? Either way, it’s a riddle for another day and Walt finally falls asleep. 

Discussion Questions:
  1. Obviously a strong theme throughout Mapmaker is maps! If you could travel to the world of any map you’ve seen in a book, which would you choose? Where would you go??
  2. Another central theme throughout the book is Walt’s conflict with his father. Walt’s mom tells him that his father is simply trying to protect Walt growing up Black in America. How do you think this conflict will be addressed in the book? 
  3. Ms. Wilhope is a very interesting character! Do you agree with Walt that she is a confused, older woman or do you think she knows about mapmakers? 


See you again on Thursday!
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