A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- Authors: Carrie Ryan, John Parke Davis
- Illustrator: Todd Harris
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Pirates
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
- Publication date: November 11, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 448
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.