word craft


A map to explore new worlds

Treasure Island, 1883
Trea­sure Island, 1883

Like many read­ers, maps in books have always fas­ci­nat­ed me. I once knew some­one who col­lect­ed books only with such maps. One of the most famous maps, the trea­sure map found in Stevenson’s Trea­sure Island, was drawn first, and the sto­ry writ­ten around it. One of my own ear­ly books, Who Stole the Wiz­ard of Oz?, a mys­tery, has, as its pri­ma­ry clues, maps from well-known chil­drens’ books, The Wiz­ard of Oz, Win­nie The Pooh, Trea­sure Island, Through the Look­ing Glass, and The Wind in the Wil­lows. My book was inspired when I came upon an atlas of fan­ta­sy­lands. What a book by which to trav­el! This comes to mind because my forth­com­ing book, Sophia’s War, will have not just one map, but two. Such maps not only illu­mi­nate the sto­ry, but seem to give a sin­gu­lar sense of real­i­ty to a nar­ra­tive. In a very spe­cial and lit­er­al way, maps pro­vide a way of fol­low­ing a sto­ry. Or per­haps the best sto­ries fol­low a map to explore new worlds.

3 thoughts on “A map to explore new worlds”

  1. I just want­ed to thank you for this post. I did a google search on “Wind in the Wil­low” blogs and yours came up, but it address­es one of the top­ics I will be explor­ing in my Chil­dren’s Lit­er­a­ture blog (my final assign­ment for my sum­mer uni­ver­si­ty course). My top­ic (I think) is going to be Map­ping the Geog­ra­phy of Chil­dren’s Books through Imag­i­na­tion or some­thing like that–I’m still flesh­ing it out! I, too, have always stud­ied maps: The Hob­bit, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Wind in the Wil­lows will be some of the books I am covering.

  2. Dear Nan­cy Gazo:

    Thanks for your response. You might enjoy look­ing at my book—if you can find a copy—of Who Stole the Wiz­ard of Oz. Some­thing I wrote years ago. The point is, it is a mys­tery, and the essen­tial clues are to be found in the maps, maps from well-known children’s books. The book was nev­er pro­duced well. I sus­pect the book design­er nev­er read the book, so nev­er under­stood how cru­cial the maps were. 

    A forth com­ing book, Sophia’s War, will have 2 maps, but they are real places.

    • I’ll add this to my ‘books to buy’ list and look for­ward, with antic­i­pa­tion, to your forth­com­ing book. Let us know when it’s published!


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