By S.E. Grove
Ages 8 to 13
It’s hard to imagine huge sections of Earth as uncharted territory. Even a century ago, the great age of exploration was long over. But not in Sophia Tims’s world.
Sophia lives in Boston in 1891. It’s the capital of New Occident, a place that seems like America. But not much has changed since the Great Disruption of 1799.
The Disruption was a moment in which time and space were torn apart. Parts of the world ended up in different ages. People who traveled encountered strange cities and creatures described only in legends.
The old maps of the world were useless. As a result, mapmakers were among the most important scholars of the day.
Sophia’s uncle Shadrack Elli was one of the most famous. He agreed to teach Sophia what he knew so that they eventually could search for her long-lost explorer parents.
Soon after Sophia begins map-reading lessons, Uncle Shadrack is kidnapped. He leaves Sophia a curious piece of glass and a short note urging her to find an old friend of his.
Sophia must travel to the Baldlands to help Shadrack, but she is unsure how to find her way in that unfamiliar age. When a boy who knows the territory offers to travel with her, she reluctantly agrees. Can she trust him, she wonders?
The two soon discover that while they are trying to find Shadrack, his captors are hunting for the piece of glass.
The chase is on, with consequences much larger than Shadrack’s safety. If her world is to survive, Sophia must test her map-reading skills and her courage to explore.
Alton Ziegler’s parents picked his name from a map. So it’s fitting that the main character in “The Map Trap” by Andrew Clements becomes fascinated with making his own maps.
Some of Alton’s maps just show places, but his secret maps are different: They chart such things as his sixth-grade teacher’s brain and which girls in his class like which boys. After Alton tries to impress a classmate named Quint by showing him the secret maps, the folder containing all of them disappears.
Alton is desperate to get them back. He suspects Quint but has no proof. Meanwhile, the “mapnapper” is sending threatening notes. If Alton doesn’t follow instructions, the entire school will see the maps. But, as he soon figures out, that might not be so bad after all.