The Map to Everywhere

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
The Map to Everywhere Book Poster Image
Thrilling fantasy series opener makes a great read-aloud.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The story's packed with verbal flourishes and wordplay that seems meant to be read aloud. Many adventures take place on a ship called the Enterprising Kraken, and readers will pick up lots of vocabulary words and navigational terminology, for example "compass rose" and "calipers." Marrill's family has spent a lot of time in exotic places, which will inspire some readers to learn more about them.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about friendship, courage, loyalty, kindness, sticking together -- and always having a backup plan.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Marrill's parents are kind and loving. Marrill is strong, courageous, loyal, and very relatable as she faces challenges such as never being able to get home again if things go wrong. Fin has lived as a master thief to survive, and doing the right thing is a new idea for him, but his determination to find his mom and his bond with his new friends often bring out his better self. His foster mother doesn't remember him, but she's a generous soul who sells her valuables to help orphans.

Violence & Scariness

The kids and their friends battle a magic villain who's bent on destroying the world. Some scenes involve fire, creepy forests, and scary plants.


As part of a ship's tour, a character refers to the poop deck and says, "Stop giggling." No swear words; characters say things like "blisterwinds!" instead.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Map to Everywhere is a first-time literary collaboration from real-life spouses Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis and a fast-moving, appealing start to the Pirate Stream series. The two 12-year-old protagonists are on a quest to thwart an evil magician, save the world, and reunite with their families. Fin is an orphan from a pirate town who's made a career of stealing to support himself, but much of the character development involves his learning better ways (while keeping the relevant skills). Marrill's been transported to a magical world from her new home in Arizona, where her mom's facing a serious illness. Amid thrills, laughs, and imaginative reinvention, the authors bring off an exuberance of language that, for sound alone, will appeal to kids, even those too little to read it, and it will keep adults entertained, too. There are plenty of lessons, especially about friendship and family, which the characters tend to uncover on their own without belaboring from the narrator.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byKatrina S. October 10, 2016
Parent of a 3 and 7-year-old Written bySusan L. March 26, 2015
Teen, 14 years old Written byAlexandraSails October 8, 2018
Kid, 9 years old February 23, 2017


I loved this book, and I was so sad when it ended. The illustrations were perfect and the plot was very interesting, and it pulled me in during the first paragr... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the disreputable but still magical Khaznot Quay (pronounced "has not key," the first of many such wordplays), 12-year-old orphan Fin has a strange problem: Everyone he meets forgets him the minute he's out of sight. Even if he sees them every day. But this serves him well in his chosen profession of Master Thief (in which he seems to spend a lot of time stealing back the lost belongings of people he likes). Meanwhile, in a middle-of-nowhere neighborhood in Arizona, 12-year-old Marrill is coping with major life changes, as her mom's illness puts an end to her family's adventurous, nomadic lifestyle, maybe forever. When her cat takes off in pursuit of a funny-looking piece of paper, she runs after him -- only to behold a large sailing vessel pull into the strip-mall parking lot on water that wasn't there a minute ago. Turns out the Pirate Stream has bubbled up from its cosmic source, and soon Fin and Marrill, along with a motley crew, are off in search of that funny bit of paper and the rest of THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE. So, unfortunately, is a dark wizard who wants to use the map to end the world.

Is it any good?

There are plenty of positive messages in this tale, made all the more appealing by springing from epic adventures and believable internal conflict. Kids too young to read the story for themselves will love the exuberant sound of the language when the story's read aloud, and more sophisticated readers will enjoy the big, oddball words (such as the ship's name: Enterprising Kraken) and creative treatments of themes that date back to ancient times (such as rumor-whispering plants). Illustrator Todd Harris adds to the fun with dramatic, funny black-and-white scenes.

But, although The Map to Everywhere is a great adventure tale, what sets it apart is a profound but delicately conveyed sense of kindness and heart. Here is a description of Marrill's conversation with neighbor kids who've dug up a cow bone and are sure it's from a dinosaur: "Marrill felt a twinge of guilt. They'd been imagining a great discovery, and she'd messed it up by bringing in boring reality. It was a feeling she knew all too well. But thanks to her parents' jobs, she normally got to have lots of cool adventures, and she'd be leaving for more any day now. The only adventures the Hatch boys would have were the ones they made up. And now she'd ruined even that." 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about stories where magical worlds suddenly appear in ours. What other ones do you know? What would you do if a ship suddenly appeared in the parking lot at a local strip mall?

  • Have you and your friends ever created hand signs so you could communicate without words? Was it fun? Useful?

  • What's the appeal of going off on adventures? What's the appeal of staying at home with your loved ones? Which do you prefer?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and adventure

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