Camilla, Cartographer

Image of Camilla, Cartographer
Release Date: 
October 8, 2019
Magination Press
Reviewed by: 

“The text is clear and engaging, the art charming and inviting. Mapmaking has rarely looked more fun and cozy.”

In these days when people navigate using smart phones, directed from one point to the next, never seeing the bigger picture, the era of maps seems over. Camilla, Cartographer firmly asserts that is not so. Making maps is still how we find our way in the world. When Camilla, a wild boar who has a big collection of maps, finds the world around her covered in snow, she realizes that there is still uncharted territory to explore and it's right outside her front door. “Not everything,” Camilla tells her porcupine friend Parsley, “has already been mapped.”

It's Camilla's turn to both explore and create her own map. How else can she and Parsley find their way with snow covering all of the familiar landmarks? Together, the two friends dig a path, marking the area on Camilla's own map, “Our valley of the snow.”

The concept of mapmaking, of seeing in our heads how both familiar and strange areas interconnect, is a mental skill that's essential for navigating our place in the world. What do we lose when we no longer make mental maps, when we no longer have a sense of how different parts of our neighborhood relate to each other? The author, Julie Dillemuth, has a doctorate in geography and this charming picture book is meant to introduce spatial thinking to the youngest readers. The backmatter includes an explanation of orienting and spatial thinking skills and has a list of fun activities kids can do with parents and teachers to become explorers and mapmakers themselves.

The text is clear and engaging, the art charming and inviting. Together they create a story that should stir the reader's imagination and make them eager to start making their own maps—of their room, their house, their neighborhood, their world. Mapmaking has rarely looked more fun and cozy.