The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat
Fast-paced adventure that is jam-packed with secrets, intrigue, and narrow escapes.
Twelve-year-old Sodsai leads a double life. Each morning this impoverished girl sneaks away from her home in the slums and furtively exchanges her rags for the professional attire of an assistant to Paiyoon, the Kingdom of Mangkon’s Mapmaker. She can make exact copies of complex documents,
a talent that makes her invaluable to her employer.
Recently the Queen of Mangkon commissioned several sailing expeditions to search for a legendary southern continent that may be the home of dragons. Sai joins the Mapmaker on this voyage, helping him create maps to chart the ship's course. If the expedition is successful, she hopes to be awarded an honor that will remove the stigma of her low social class and grant her legitimacy as a respected member of society.
Woven throughout the narrative are scenes depicting the dehumanizing effects of colonization, class differentiation, and poverty. Empowerment of woman is a dominant feature in this society, to wit: a queen rules the land and the ship’s captain and most of the high-ranking ship officers are women. If you are looking for fantasy with bold and daring women, this book for middle-grade readers delivers.
Random Question: Will Paiyoon approve of this mapmaking effort?
Here's one reader's view of the ship’s voyage.