One is not enough, Ben Stanley
The Mapmakers Race
29 September 2020
Brilliant. Mystical. Absolutely fabulous. These three things describe The Mapmaker’s Race perfectly. This book takes the reader on a brilliant adventure, as it recounts the fantastical journey of the Santander kids.
This book is about a race – a race to see who can find the best route to Grand Prospect. The Santander team intended on entering with their expert mapmaker mother, but she’s gone missing! They have no choice but to enter the race; four kids, alone, against a bunch of unfair, cheating adults. It is on this journey that they need to stick together, play by the rules, and most importantly, work as a team.
There is a great selection of characters, from a moody teen, to a wondrous toddler, to a working runaway, and to a magical artist.
Sal is brave and ambitious. She would do anything to protect her family, and always tries to keep them safe. The mathematics that is needed to be calculated is all left to Sal, as she is a maths whizz!
Joe is brave and courageous. He has a good heart, and also sticks up for his family. Joe is left with a tough situation in the book, but he pushes through it, waiting for his siblings to help rescue him. Joe is also a twin to Francie.
Francie is very quiet and quite an introvert. She is an extremely talented artist, therefore she is in charge of drawing up the route to Grand Prospect. She also has a great gift, almost magical… but you will have to read the book to find out what it is!
Humphrey is a curious being who is usually always asking questions. He is onerous, just like any four, almost five year old would be, and like the rest of his siblings, he is brave, courageous and has a good heart.
Beckett joined the Santander team at the start of the race, and has helped them through since. He is assisting the rest of the Santanders, and is very helpful. Sometimes, though, Sal can get a bit over protective of her siblings and give him a hard time.
The starting point of the race was done really well. It’s as though you are in the crowd, watching as the teams of adventurers, unprofessionally bumping up and down on their donkeys, disappear into the wilderness. Each and every chapter title, in my opinion, is very intriguing, and the illustrations at the start really strengthen that.
Speaking of the illustrations, all of them are fantastic. The ones at the start of the chapters, the maps showing us where they actually are and the landscape surrounding them, really cast a spell on you, entrancing you, almost pulling you into the book and into the lively world of the Santander family.
In almost every chapter, the Santander family are faced with a so-thought unsolvable problem, but they always manage to push their way through it, sticking together, and coming out the other side in one piece. I find this to be a great message, the message being:
“Even though it seems like you are an inch from complete and utter failure, there is still a chance that you can burst out the other side full of accomplishment”.
Eirlys Hunter has done a spectacular job on this book, from the hooking chapter titles, to the descriptive (beautiful, captivating and venturesome) words, to the admirable, fitting and terrific drawings. I think she has pulled it off exceptionally.
And let’s just say, The Mapmakers Race has got me wanting more and more children’s novels from her. One is not enough!
– Ben Stanley is 12 and lives in Nelson