The Map of Marvels by David Calcutt

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The Map of Marvels by David Calcutt

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Slowly-paced adventure with two-dimensional passive main characters. While youngsters may find this a reasonable read, there's far better out there.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 256 Date: August 2010
Publisher: OUP
ISBN: 978-0192729675

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Connor is trying to draw a map for a school project but can't find any inspiration until an old book drops on the floor. Opening it to find a map, he gets inspired and starts work on his project. He's drawn to putting a tower in which he feels will complete it, and gets upset with his younger sister Alice when she scribbles it out after claiming she's seen a nasty face in it - so he retaliates by kicking down her tower that she'd made of stuff from her toybox. As he does so, he finds himself transported onto the ship of Sindbad, King of the Pirates, and his daughter.

Okay, we have pirates, we have giant whales, djinns, a roc, a dragon, and a mysterious tower that the trio need to get to. What we don't have is any real sense of excitement, because nothing our heroes do seems to make any difference! Alice - by far the most interesting character, which isn't saying much - is at home, talking to a mysterious Voice, and touching the map, meaning that her brother and his two companions are getting transported all over the place while she does so. There's no point worrying about danger or anything, because when things are looking bad, they just end up getting moved without any of them realising what's happening. The three main characters, Connor, Sindbad, and his daughter Sherazhad have relatively few moments at which they actually do anything particularly heroic, and I was left with the feeling that I wasn't really bothered what happened to any of them.

I'm sure that some children will enjoy this, especially if they haven't read much adventure stuff before, and the actual writing style is quite good - it manages to be impressively descriptive without using too many words that the younger end of the target audience (8 - 11 year olds, say) are likely to struggle with. From that point of view, and at a little over 200 pages, it deserves some credit for being a nice novel for children trying to move on from shorter books. It's just that there's plenty of other, similar books out there which have that to recommend them, along with a lot more thrills along the way.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: For a similar concept of kids thrown into a magical world but with far more pace and excitement, go for The Blackhope Enigma by Teresa Flavin.

Buy The Map of Marvels by David Calcutt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Map of Marvels by David Calcutt at

Buy The Map of Marvels by David Calcutt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Map of Marvels by David Calcutt at


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