Cover Reveal: The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat

Hello, Christina Soontornvat! I'm OVERJOYED you're here today to share Christina Chung's cover illustration and Hayley Parker's cover design for The Last Mapmaker. 

Christina Soontornvat: I just love the cover so much. I think it perfectly conveys the mystery and adventure that is waiting inside for readers. And I absolutely love all the Southeast Asian details that Christina Chung gave to the ship, the dragon emblem, and even to the ocean waves. One of my very favorite books as a young reader was The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. The moment I saw our cover, my heart did a little leap because it evokes that iconic jacket that I remember so well from my childhood.


Awwww! I love the cover SO MUCH! And yes, it does remind me of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. What would you like everyone to know about The Last Mapmaker?

Christina Soontornvat: I started working on this book eight years ago, when I was in the middle of making a seismic shift in my life. I was about to leave my steady job in the science museum field and make the leap to writing children’s books. I hadn’t been published yet (despite years of trying), and I desperately wanted to be a published author. I was thinking a lot about ambition and what we are willing to go through to get the things we want most in the world. And so, this story about a young mapmaker’s apprentice who will do anything to escape her past and go after her dreams was born.

This is the book I have rewritten more times than any other. It has gone from third person to first person. The main character changed from a girl to a boy and back again. And the worldbuilding went through a complete overhaul. But at its heart, this book has always been about the secrets we keep from the world and the ones we keep from ourselves.

And what better setting to explore secrets than on the open sea? The ocean is beautiful, inspiring, mythic—it is also brutal and unforgiving, and it will force you to face up to your fears and own your flaws like no other place on earth. It’s also home to dragons (at least, that’s what the old maps say, right?). One of my earliest critique partners advised me to “add more dragon” to this story, and it was just about the best advice I ever got. So yes, there is definitely something scaled and serpentine lurking in the depths below.

The Last Mapmaker
is heavily influenced by some of my favorite seafaring books from my childhood, like C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. And like any story about exploration and discovery, this one confronts the destructive arrogance of colonialism. My hope for this book is that it sweeps young readers away and makes them taste salt on their tongue and feel wind in their hair. I hope it surprises them in the way that writing it has surprised me.

Yay! Thank you, Christina! Congratulations! 


Christina Soontornvat grew up in a small Texas town, where she spent many childhood days behind the counter of her parents’ Thai restaurant with her nose in a book. She is the author of many books for young readers, including the Newbery Honor Books A Wish in the Dark and All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team, also a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book and a YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults finalist. Christina Soontornvat lives in Austin, Texas.


Look for The Last Mapmaker on April 12, 2022. 

Candlewick's Description: 

From Christina Soontornvat, the visionary and versatile author of two 2021 Newbery Honor Books, comes a high-seas adventure set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world.

In a fantasy adventure every bit as compelling and confident in its world building as her Newbery Honor Book A Wish in the Dark, Christina Soontornvat explores a young woman’s struggle to unburden herself of the past and chart her own destiny in a world of secrets. As assistant to Mangkon’s most celebrated mapmaker, twelve-year-old Sai plays the part of a well-bred young lady with a glittering future. In reality, her father is a conman—and in a kingdom where the status of one’s ancestors dictates their social position, the truth could ruin her. Sai seizes the chance to join an expedition to chart the southern seas, but she isn’t the only one aboard with secrets. When Sai learns that the ship might be heading for the fabled Sunderlands—a land of dragons, dangers, and riches beyond imagining—she must weigh the cost of her dreams. Vivid, suspenseful, and thought-provoking, this tale of identity and integrity is as beautiful and intricate as the maps of old.

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