Maps by Mizielinska…and Musings

mapsLynn:  Two deliveries, one physical and one virtual, have me waxing philosophical.  First, Maps (Candlewick 2013) arrived on my doorstep and secondly my Library Link of the Day delivered a link to an article titled The American Highway Map is Dead by Michael Brink.  The conjunction of these two really has me thinking.

I love maps.  I have always loved maps.  As a child I used to sit in the way-back of the family station wagon and follow our progress on vacations.  I love seeing the path of where we are going, what is around us as we pass by and the strange and wonderful connections waiting to be discovered.  I love spreading out a map and planning a trip.  I love atlases  – all the different kinds – and globes.  So of course, the Mizielinska’s gorgeous oversize book grabbed me the minute I opened the package.  Fun and different, this isn’t your usual atlas.  Instead, the maps are of a sampling of countries around the world.  Each map is shown on a  two-page spread and filled with fascinating line drawings representing physical and cultural elements from that country.  For example:  France has the Papal Palace in Avignon, the Chateau de Chenonceau straddling the Loire  and a bottle of Dijon mustard  – all in their appropriate locations.  Around the edge of the maps are more drawings showing food, sports, famous people, crops and other signature items.  These aren’t maps for locating latitudes or specific geographic points.  These are maps to browse, explore and dream over.  They are fun if you’ve never been to that country and just as much fun when you have.

Which brings me back to the article and my musings.  Like Mr. Brink, I am saddened at the diminishing demand for state highway maps, perhaps largely due to the wonders of the internet and the GPS.  Let me hasten to say that I love our GPS device.  We use it constantly and I am grateful for it but I agree with Mr. Brink:

We need the map, not to tell us where we’re going, or even where we’ve been, but to show us, in the distance between those big dots and stars, where we are.

The Mizielinska’s lovely book does that as do our much-folded and abused collection of state and country maps.  Let’s not forget that there is so much more to travel than that straight line.  And there is a hazard to depending too much on technology!  My husband and I are just back from a trip to southern France and this fact was driven home to us when our Garmin didn’t start up after a day visiting Avignon.  We only had a sketchy map of the old town and we realized we didn’t even have the address of our rental house with us or the first clue about how to find our way out of that winding maze of streets!  Lesson learned!  Always have a map!

Croatia map page Cindy: I love maps too, but if you think Lynn is passionate about maps, you should get her going on dictionaries! Perhaps we should just focus on maps. 😉 My married name (Dobrez) is Croatian so I snapped a photo of that page to include in this post so you can get a sense of the design. The book is way too big to put on my scanner, but you can see my pencil in the right edge of the photo for scale. The whole book has an old fashioned feel, from the illusion of wrinkled, worn end papers to the muted colors and the detailed border designs. This really is a browsing book for people who are more inclined to enjoy the journey than race for the destination. Leave your smart phone in the charger and just curl up with this book and an elementary age child and let your fingers and eyes go traveling.

nonfiction-mondayThis week’s Nonfiction Monday host is Abby the Librarian. Head over to her blog to read a roundup of other youth nonfiction blog posts.









About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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