The Boy Who Loved Maps

by Kari Allen (Author) G Brian Karas (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

This enchanting picture book about a map-making boy who is stumped when a girl asks him for a map of the perfect place helps readers appreciate the charms of their own neighborhood--and even shows them how to make a map of it!

The Mapmaker loves maps. He loves to collect them, to study them, and most of all, he loves to make them. But when a girl asks for a map of a perfect place, the Mapmaker is perplexed. She wants a map to a toes-in-the-sand-warm, X-marks-the-spot-place filled with treasures, where it smells like her birthday and she can zip around like a dragonfly. Surely, a place that is all of these things can't exist...can it? Well, after a fun-filled day of exploring the neighborhood, the Mapmaker will discover that the perfect place--home--has been right in front of him all along.

Here is a picture book, as creative as it is charming, that celebrates home, and is a gentle reminder to look around and appreciate what surrounds you.

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Suggested activities, including ideas for creating a neighborhood map, are appended. An inviting read-aloud choice for home or classroom.

Publishers Weekly

In Allen's picture book debut, a studious boy who loves maps works in a charming tree-house studio, drawing "cities with their grid-like lines and countries with their squiggly borders." Soon, a girl appears with a request for a personalized map of "the perfect place," describing a location that's "toes-in-the-sand, wrapped-up-in-a-towel warm." When his drawings and knowledge of the globe don't align with her variable vision ("It's a place where I can zip like a dragonfly"), she leads him through their neighborhood, showing him its familiar features through new eyes. Working in warm, loose gouache and pencil in muted greens and earth tones, Karas (A Hat for Mrs. Goldman) plots their journey, following the path of the duo, who read as white, from library to bakery to playground to home, as the boy sees how the girl's words describe the world he already knows, and make it new. A notable feature of this telling is the way authority shifts from the boy--whose rational take makes the girl's expanding requests seem capricious--to the girl, who shows the boy another way to look at the world. Back matter defines maps and suggests activities. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Erzsi Deak. Hen&Ink Literary. Illustrator's agent: Brenda Bowen, Book Group. (July)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Kari Allen
Kari Allen grew up on a lake in New Hampshire with her sister and parents spending the summer swimming and eating blackberries. She went to a small school in central New Hampshire, so small that her graduating class had only seventeen students in it. Kari has always loved reading and writing and channeled that love into pursuing degrees in English and early childhood education, as well as a master's in the teaching of writing. She teaches second grade at the same independent school she went to and loves watching how literacy develops in children, how they connect to books and words and stories. Kari's worked with the National Writing Project in New Hampshire coordinating writing camps and facilitating and creating workshops and staff development for teachers. Find out more at

Kim Smith is the New York Times bestselling illustrator of over thirty picture books, including her first authored and illustrated book, Boxitects. Other books she has illustrated include the Builder Brothers picture book series by Drew and Jonathan Scott; the PopClassics picture book adaptations of popular films including Back to the Future, Home Alone, and Elf; and the Ice Chips chapter book series by Roy and Kerry MacGregor. In addition to illustrating picture books, Kim has also worked on children's games, puzzles, animation, 3D displays, posters, and magazines. When she's not busy illustrating, Kim spends most of her time exploring and painting in the great outdoors. She lives in Calgary, Canada. Find out more at or on Instagram @KimIllustration or Twitter @KimDraws.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Anne Schwartz Books
Publication date
July 20, 2022
BISAC categories
JUV051000 - Juvenile Fiction | Imagination & Play
JUV028000 - Juvenile Fiction | Mysteries, Espionage, & Detective Stories
JUV068000 - Juvenile Fiction | Travel
Library of Congress categories

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