The Mapmaker Chronicles: Race to the End of the World by A. L. Tait
4 out of 5 stars
A contest, unknown lands and a reluctant traveller make ‘Race to the End of the World’ an engaging adventure story for children aged 9 and over. And while I thought the premise was a little weak, I loved that A. L. Tait has used sophisticated language that will challenge young readers.
‘Race to the End of the World’, the first book in The Mapmaker Chronicles trilogy, follows the story of 14-year-old Quinn as he studies the art and science of mapmaking and then is one of three boys chosen to compete in the king’s contest to map the world. The overall story concept is great and there is no doubt primary school children will enjoy the book as it hooks the reader from the beginning. I did find the idea of a 14-year-old boy being relied upon to do the vital mapmaking a little unbelievable. Indeed, at times I found it stretched my ability to ‘willingly suspend disbelief’, particularly because there’s no real explanation for why the king wanted children trained to fulfil that role when he could easily have chosen adults. But the sense of adventure inspired by the nautical story makes up for that issue.
One thing I particularly liked about the book was the fact that A. L. Tait included what would be considered sophisticated language for a nine-year-old. It is so important that children are exposed to such language as it improves their vocabulary and develops their language ability, but all too often we adults oversimplify the language we use when speaking to children in an effort to ensure they feel included. Thus books like ‘Race to the End of the World’ serve a crucial purpose by introducing children to advanced words and sentence structure in such an engaging way that they don’t realise they’re being taught something.
So, if you have or know a child in middle of primary school, next time you’re looking for a good read for them, I recommend giving A. L. Tait’s ‘The Mapmaker Chronicles: Race to the End of the World’ a go. And if they like it, you won’t have to think too hard about the next two books to try as the second and third books in the series have already been released.