Sunday, August 17, 2014

MMGM- The Map Trap

13260468Clements, Andrew. The Map Trap.
July 22nd 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers 

Alton has had a life-long fascination with maps of all kind. He loves to look at them, hang them in his room, and draw them. He draws maps not only of real places, but of things like his teacher Miss Wheeling's mind, the heights of kids in his class, and charts of the cafeteria food correlated with the number of bathroom trips students make! After Alton tries to impress "cool kid" Quint by showing him the map of Miss Wheeling, the whole folder goes missing. Thinking that Quint has probably taken it, Alton rides his bike to Quint's house, and the two start to investigate. Fearing that people will hate him for all of his funny but unflattering comments after someone sends him a ransom note of sorts concerning the maps, Alton apologizes to a teacher whose use of "um" he has charted-- and she finds the chart amusing. Buoyed by this, Alton proceeds to apologize to everyone, so he doesn't have to worry about the maps resurfacing. In the process, he makes friends with Quint and gets along better with his classmates.
Strengths: Fun tale of making friends and facing the consequences of our actions. There are always a number of younger readers, especially boys, who love maps. Clements is a tiny bit young for middle school, but a great choice for struggling readers at this level.
Weaknesses: Quint's vocal tics were odd enough without Alton pointing them out multiple times, and the illustrations have an odd, 1980s quality to them.

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

Yearly Status Update/Rant:
We have been back at school for a week now. I love the start of the year! So much energy and enthusiasm, especially since I've convinced my principal to let me rename the library the Portal to Other Dimensions and to call myself the Portal Keeper Master. I felt that after Common Core, testing, building renovations, staff turnover, and an otherwise stressful year, students and teachers needed something fun and stress relieving. What better way than to sell reading as a release from all of those concerns? I'll share more about the "Portal" as the year progresses.

One reason that I need some stress relief is that at the beginning of June, both of my parents (who are 80) went from being in reasonably good health and living alone in a four bedroom house, to being in poor physical and mental health and living in a senior community, with my mother, who has had Parkinson's for a number of years, in assisted living. The downsizing and transfer took some considerable time.

Most years, this would not bother me, but this year, it's hard. Reading books like The Map Trap can be difficult, since I once had a student who not only adored Andrew Clements' books but who also was very fond of maps, competing in the Geography Bee and translating this love into global traveling. Like so many other students, he is no longer at my school or in my life, but the books that he checked out still are on the shelves and I come across them daily.

Long time readers may be reassured that I and my family are fine, as we are embracing this philosophy every single day: “Go back?" he thought. "No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!" So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go! 


  1. It's been a tough year over here as well so I like this idea of bringing fun through reading. I need to come up with a theme. I'm moving to a new school that includes younger students so that should be fun. My one one only child is going to college so that will be fun - for her at least! Let's get this party started!

  2. Portal Master sounds like a promotion. And the Hobbit quote, just right. Wishing you a wonderful school year.

  3. Thank you for helping me go forward. Your daily reviews help my put my life into perspective. Can't wot to hear more about the portal. Have a great year.

  4. Anonymous9:33 AM EDT

    Onward indeed...with a hug or two along the way if that's okay. Boy oh boy, the memories that come back from certain titles (old and new) still amazes me...and then makes me realize I have been around a rather loooooong time. I LOVE Portal Master. Love. it. Staring at a new school this year...maybe I could suggest...

  5. I love the Portal and Portal Master! I'm not going back to school this year, but I know schools all over could use a strong dose of fun and stress relief. The library as a portal strikes just the right note, as does The Hobbit quote. I hope your parents continue to move forward through their transition to new living arrangements. We went through a similar transition with my husband's grandmother last year.

  6. Go forward! Yes, it's all we can do. My husband is a huge Tolkein fan, so I might have to type up that quote and post it on our fridge! We parent two very difficult behavioral special needs kids and some days we really wonder how we make it through the day. But that's all you can do! Thankfully, life goes on, and there are always books!! Love what you've done with the library name. And thank you for the review of this Andrew Clements title. My older son and I have read a few of his books aloud and this sounds like one he would love. Sorry to hear about your parents and your stressful summer.

  7. I'm sorry you had a tough summer.
    I love the Portal to Other Dimensions and the quote from the Hobbit was wonderful! I love Clements, and this one sounds great. My MG son is into maps, and I think he'd enjoy this.

  8. I've never known a Portal Master. What a great title. Thanks for featuring this new one by Andrew Clements. I have recommended his books to dozens of reluctant readers. I'll be taking a look at this one myself. Yes, go forward. The road is never smooth as we maneuver those bumps in life.

  9. You go, Ms. Yingling! Go on and go forward, oh great Portal Master!

  10. I'm always impressed when I see book that take subjects that might be interesting to kids and make them fun. "Portal Master", that's so cool. :)

  11. I like "Portal Master" a lot. And your "go forward" philosophy is a quiet inspiration. I hope it's a great school year for you, and balances out some of the stressful/less happy things.

  12. Hi there Ms Yingling, sending you positive thoughts and good vibes. :)
    The renaming of the library is brilliant - I am sure there are a lot of possible projects waiting to be unveiled with the new name. :)

  13. We had to take of my mom in her last years, so I know (a little) what you're going through.

  14. Anonymous1:52 AM EDT

    On we go! <---- I like that! And it's awesome you're injecting fun to the school in what does seem like a tough and stressful year!

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