The Last Mapmaker

The Last Mapmaker cover
The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat

By Christina Soontornvat
Candlewick, 2022
359 pages

Ages 9-13

In a society where status comes from how far back one can trace the generations of their family, Sai has only a father who’s a thief. That Sai is apprentice to the famed mapmaker Paiyoon Wongyai is a testament to both her skill and intelligent deception. Sai’s island nation of Mangkon has recently emerged the victor from years of war; now Sai is accompanying Paiyoon Wongyai on a journey to map unknown territories on a ship led by war hero Captain Sangra, the queen’s niece. On board the ship, the captain’s friend Rian befriends Sai, while Sai befriends a young stowaway, Bo, and agrees to help hide him from everyone else. When Rian reveals the queen wants them to search for the Sunderlands, the rumored great southern continent, she asks Sai to help convince Paiyoon to chart a likely course. Paiyoon’s reluctance to do so comes from having seen firsthand what conqueror’s do to the places they “discover.” And while some sailors are hesitant to make the journey south because of rumors of dragons, most are eager to claim a share of the cash prize being offered for the continent’s discovery. This fantasy features a well-drawn world, engaging characters, and satisfying plot twists with deception, betrayal, friendship, and loyalty all on display. It also illuminates the impact of colonialism on both the human and natural worlds. It features a compelling protagonist in Sai, whose relationships with Paiyoon Wongyai and Bo are particularly satisfying elements of this adventure.  ©2022 Cooperative Children’s Book Center