MapMaker by Lisa Moore Ramée

Hello, Lisa Moore Ramée! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read. Thank you for stopping by to share MapMaker’s AMAZING cover. Wow! Whoa! Look at that! ran through my heart the first time I saw the cover. What ran through your heart the first time you saw Michael Machira Mwangi’s cover illustration and Molly Fehr’s cover design for MapMaker?

Lisa Moore Ramée: I was absolutely blown away the first time I saw the cover! My first thought was: It’s Heckett! (That’s the dragon’s name and I had no idea that she was going to be featured on the cover.) I love how we get to see the characters in action, and the fantastical land they get trapped in, and even part of the map that Walt drew. Michael and Molly delivered perfection. I have been blessed to get such amazing teams working on my covers.

I know you love speaking with students about reading and writing. Imagine you’re telling 5th graders about MapMaker. What do you share with them?

Lisa Moore Ramée: MapMaker is about Walt, a boy who has just been forced to move to the most boring place on Earth, and draws fantastic maps in order to escape that misery. But Walt’s going to learn that not only is Blackbird Bay not nearly as boring as he thought, he’ll also find out that while he thought he was just drawing a map, he was really creating a world! A world he can visit and that has all the things Walt drew like dragon races, and volcanoes and mushroom trampolines. But it also has sea serpents and zombie rhinos and dragon poop and an evil mapmaker who has been searching for Walt. And unfortunately, Walt loses his only way home. So not only has to figure out how to get back home but also how to defeat a mapmaker that is so much bigger and more powerful than he is. It’s a story full of adventure and danger and double-crosses and mystery and magic. And of course dragons!

Please finish the following sentence starters:

MapMaker, A Good Kind of Trouble, and Something to Say all feature young Black protagonists with a difficult problem to solve. (Well, in Shayla’s case in A Good Kind of Trouble, her list of problems is long!) And although some of the societal issues that are examined in A Good Kind of Trouble and Something to Say are directly related to race/identity, the larger point is all three main characters in my books face issues that are common to kids everywhere: friendship, phobias, family dynamics, school, crushes, feeling not good enough. Black kids have read books for…ever, that were about characters that didn’t look like us, but that we still related to. And that’s what I hope readers of my books will walk away understanding too. That while the main characters are Black, they are relatable to all. There are now so many (although I’d say still not enough) books out there with Black characters doing all sorts of wonderful things and getting into all kinds of mischief. Hopefully this illustrates the point that we are not a monolith; we contain multitudes. But to be clear, while I’m truly writing for all readers, I’m especially writing books for my young Black readers because they need to see themselves on the pages of all sorts of books. And for too long that wasn’t the case.

Story is quite simply magic. It is where many, many of us escape to when reality is difficult, or maybe just a dud. I’m amazed at how I can get a book—for free if I’m at the library—and journey all over the world, or into the cosmos or to a completely different land/time/reality. I can inhabit the life of a pig, or doll, or fox. And I can learn and grow from what I read. Story is also sometimes what we think about ourselves. Walt—the main character in MapMaker--would say his story is not meeting his father’s approval, and knowing that maps are special, and not having anyone in his life anymore that gets him. But he’ll learn that his story is so much broader than he ever imagined. I should also say that story is hard. Writing MapMaker was my most difficult book so far. Maybe it’s because with fantasy, there are so many more possibilities of where the story can go, and the problem wasn’t not knowing what to write, but of having way too many ideas!

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me whether it was hard to write from a boy’s perspective. Before I ever wrote one word of this book, I knew the main character was a boy. He popped into my head that way. Probably because one of my all-time favorite books is The Phantom Tollbooth, and there’s a tiny bit of Milo in Walt. But of course Walt is his own person and I needed to figure out who that was. I thought about my son, and my brother, and my guy friends. I thought of boys I had gone to school with and the boys on my street I grew up playing with. But mainly, I tried to keep in mind that while Walt is a boy, he’s also just a person struggling with feeling too small and insignificant and as if being a hero is what happens to other people, and that was something I could completely relate to. Hopefully some readers will too!

Thank you, Lisa!!!

Lisa Moore Ramee wrote her first book in second grade. It took some time before she got around to writing her second one. A Good Kind of Trouble, her debut novel, published in Spring 2019. Something to Say came out in July, 2020 and MapMaker will hit shelves in 2022.

Look for MapMaker on September 20, 2022


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