by Sarvenaz Tash
Walker & Company, 2012
Reviewed from personal copy.
Goldenrod Moram loves nothing better than a good quest. Intrepid, curious, and full of a well-honed sense of adventure, she decides to start her own exploring team fashioned after her idols, the explorers Lewis and Clark, and to map the forest right behind her home. This task is complicated, however, by a series of unique events—a chance encounter with a mysterious old lady has her searching for a legendary blue rose. Another encounter lands her in the middle of a ragtag gang of brilliant troublemakers. And when she stumbles upon none other than the ghost of Meriwether Lewis himself, Goldenrod knows this will be anything but an ordinary summer . . . or an ordinary quest. Debut author Sarvenaz Tash combines an edge-of-your-seat adventure, a uniquely clever voice, and an unforgettable cast of characters to prove that sometimes the best adventures of all are waiting right in your own backyard.
I knew I had to read this book the moment I saw the word mapmaker in the title. Being a lover of geography including maps, I was immediately intrigued. And the book did not disappoint, though I was surprised at the actual storyline. There wasn't as much fantasy as I was expecting, but it does play a strong role in leading Goldenrod into the woods where she not only receives her quest but runs into The Gross-Out Gang. The name of the gang is a big clue that there is a good amount of gross humor involved, and there is, but it mostly just made me roll my eyes. I know a lot of kids will get a big kick out of the body humor.
I enjoyed Goldenrod and her tenacity and intelligence. I always enjoy reading about characters who use brains as well as or in place of brawn. After all, not all of us are athletically endowed and have to rely on other talents to solve problems. I liked reading about the different relationships between the characters, both the 'bad guys' (who weren't all bad) and the 'good guys.' But my favorite character, outside of Goldenrod herself, was the mysterious old lady. There is one scene in the book that had me grinning as I read it just because of the humor and unexpectedness of it.
There were plenty of twists and turns, especially with the quest for the blue rose. Just when I thought I had things figured out, the author tossed in another twist which made the book very interesting to read right up through the satisfying ending. I recommend this book to those who enjoy a fun adventure story with just a taste of fantasy.