The Mapmakers

For the past two months, Cordelia Hatmaker has been struggling to come to terms with the disappearance of her father. Those around her believe Prospero Hatmaker to have died in the shipwreck that took the Jolly Bonnet down, but Cordelia refuses to believe it. Instead, she continues her work as a hatmaker, creating beautiful and magical hats for the residents of London. By night, however, Cordelia seeks to interpret a message left for her in her fathers’s last moments that can only be viewed by starlight. Each day brings Cordelia closer to understanding the cryptic verses her father shared, and Cordelia must team up with a host of companions in order to bring down the evil Witloof before it is too late.

This second installment of the Hatmakers duology gives eleven-year-old Cordelia a chance to find her own strength and forge a path for herself as an independent person. Even if readers have not read the first book, this story can easily stand alone as its own adventure. Enough reminders of what happened in the previous novel provide context for readers without hampering the forward momentum of the story, and the action is neatly woven into a narrative that feels both supplemental and complete at the same time. History and magic are expertly blended in this plot line, inviting readers to contemplate alternate meanings to events that have taken place throughout time.

Readers of all ages will appreciate the way this book inserts magic into an older version of London. A map at the beginning and an extensive glossary at the end help connect readers to Cordelia’s world, and occasional illustrations throughout the novel provide visual respite while helping specific moments leap from the page. Accessible in its presentation, this book is especially well-suited to mid-level middle grade readers who appreciate a wholesome narrative that includes some complexity and a mystery that must be solved. This charming and uplifting story is one that will invite readers into a fully developed, magical world that they will want to return to again and again. It is an excellent addition to libraries for middle grade readers.

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