The Mapmaker Chronicles: Beyond the Edge of the Map by A.L. Tait

The Mapmaker Chronicles: Beyond the Edge of the Map

Mr 9 devoured the first three The Mapmaker Chronicles books recently and was thoroughly unimpressed when I told him he had to wait a month until the release of the fourth.

            “Argh! I want to read it now, Mum! A month is TOO LONG!”

When Beyond the Edge of the Map arrived he was one happy bookworm.

While Mr 9 is a great fan of the series, I hadn’t dipped my toe into the world of Verdania yet, but picked up the story and found myself immediately drawn into a new world.

“…Quinn’s mouth was dry. What did all this mean for Verdania? And if the King couldn’t keep Quinn safe, then who could?”

Beyond the Edge of the Map continues the story of Quinn, who in the previous books, trained as a mapmaker and took to the sea to create the first map of the world for King Orel. Quinn is now enjoying a quieter life working on the family farm when the King’s enemies come looking for him. For his own safety, and that of his family, Quinn has no choice but to set sail again.

Quinn and his crew fend off animal attacks, unscrupulous enemies and nature in all its fury. He is forced to take up responsibilities beyond his years and with every hardship overcome, new troubles present themselves. Beyond the Edge of the Map is always a fun, swashbuckling adventure even when Quinn’s chances of survival seem grim.

A.L. Tait creates characters that are relevant to modern readers without compromising the authenticity of Quinn’s time and place. Quinn is also a hero children can relate to, struggling with fear and self-doubt and, at times, a longing for home. We feel Quinn’s joy when he greets a friend and his fear when faced with an old foe.

I particularly enjoyed Quinn’s crew who provided comic relief and good natured banter at just the right moments as they complement Quinn strengths with their own skills.

Mr 9’s favourite character is definitely Quinn and he has decided to dress as Quinn for Book Week in August. A.L. Tait has some excellent costume tips on her website for kids wanting to do the same, so we’ll be taking our cues from there.

Mr 9 and I really enjoyed reading Beyond the Edge of the Map, and while Mr 9 is hoping Quinn will have a fifth adventure, I’m looking forward to introducing the books to Mr 7 soon.

The official The Mapmaker Chronicles website has some great links to extension activities including crafts, book recommendations and further reading about cartography.

Post book activity

As a children’s storyteller in my day job, I was preparing pirate stories this week, so dug out the map I made last year to use as a treasure map prop. It worked well to set the scene for the story and the children responded well to it.

With that in mind, and after reading Beyond the Edge of the Map, Mr 9 and I felt making our own maps was the perfect post book activity. We decided on a family walk on a sunny Canberra afternoon, to map a section of Lake Burley Griffin. Mr 9 and Miss 11 were armed with clipboards, paper and pencils to draw significant landmarks and chart a course which was at times challenging and full of peril.

The life of a mapmaker is fraught with danger as we dodged cyclists, Segways, fishermen and runners and the most terrifying creatures of all, dogs.

We passed the tunnel playground but decided not to stop, as it was swarming with frightening creatures (teenagers) and continued on, stopping to admire the view and sketch landmarks.

We saw plaques honouring Australians of the Year, the Captain Cook Memorial Jet and the statue of Robert Menzies. We also noticed how many Canberra landmarks were beyond the edges of our maps, such as the National Museum, the Australian War Memorial and Parliament House. The kids squished some of these onto their pages, while others remained in the distance, perhaps to be mapped another day on another walk.

The weather was nearly thirty degrees so we stopped for rations at a safe port (ice creams at a coffee van) then continued on into the sunset. We finished our activity where we started, more tired and sweaty than when we began but with a sense of satisfaction. The siren call of the cool shower whispered across the water.

When was your last adventure into the unknown and how did you capture the moment?

The Mapmaker Chronicles – Beyond the Edge of the Map was written by A.L. Tait and published by Hachette Australia.