Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Map Trap: Somehow, Clements makes Maps exciting!

Summary: Alton is probably the greatest kid-cartographer (a big, fancy word that means "map maker") in the history of Illinois. But he almost gets into serious trouble after a fire drill, which of course, he stayed in to create his next crazy map. How can maps be crazy you ask? Well while Alton has sketched perfect replicas of cities and countries, his best maps are in a folder that include a map of Miss Wheeler's- the new, very young teacher who's little brother is the same age as the kids she is teaching- brain and all the wacky things it's made up of, or a graph of how many times the principal says "um" during the morning announcements. But a "mapnapper" has stolen all of his maps, and threatens to release all of his maps to the school. Why is this a bad thing? I mean if Quint, a new friend who used to be a quote-unquote "Popular Kid" likes them, why not he whole school? Well some of them contain personal information such as who has a crush on who, and some of them could be conveyed as offensive. So, he follows the mapnapper's blackmail system doing the things he says and getting his maps back one by one. But who took his maps? Was it Quint, who simply wanted to see more maps? Was it Miss Wheeler, who thought that Alton's map making could get her into trouble and decided to end it by stealing his maps and blackmailing him to stop? Bestselling author Andrew Clement writes another brilliant story.

What I liked: It was brilliantly written. I don't know if I'm biased towards Andrew Clements and his amazing work but it seemed like even though he wrote a short novel, he packed a lot into it. Like how Alton got obsessed with making maps and what he thinks of the other kids. Or how Quint, who's thought to be some stuck up popular kid, turns out to actually have a passion for other geeky things. The action was quite suspenseful and while it didn't make you sit on edge, it was enough to make you keep flipping the page. The characters are all very fun and realistic- I kid you not, I was wishing that on Monday (when school starts for me) I wish I could meet a friend like Alton. All in all, an amazing book packed into such little space.

What I didn't like: First of all the name. It's a good name that, to a new reader who hasn't read his work, will catch the eye and get him to read it. But it doesn't really make sense. I mean, I guess you could call blackmailing a "trap" because you're forcing someone to do something but honestly it's a long stretch. In the YouTube world we call this a "click-bait" a title in which it's sole purpose is to get the reader to view it. Title Rant aside, in the book my only complaint is that it was...too short. I mean, Andrew's style is short fun novels but I wanted more. I don't know what I would've wanted, but I wanted more. Also, this is a small negative, but I would've liked an index of all the maps in picture form. It would be cool to thumb through (if there is some sort of updated copy with the maps don't hesitate to let me know)

Final Thoughts: It really is a great book. A few small, really nit-picky additions, and it would've been an as-good-as-Stuart-Gibbs novel

Rating on 'the scale': 9.05 out of ten

Why? It's a really, really, really great book. Again I'm being really nit-picky in the 'What I didn't like" section but I guess the book as a whole just can't hold it's weight against some of the better books in the MG spectrum. But I give the book a 9 and a .05 just because Andrew Clements is awesome :)

Related: Everything Andrew Clements/ Raymond and Graham series/ Fourth Grade Fuss


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