More specifically, maps appear more in middle grade than Young Adult novels. A few of my favorites are:
The Callahan Cousins by Elizabeth Doyle Carey. The map of Eastport Harbor on Gull Island is charming and sets up this quintessential girls summer adventure story. I mean, who wouldn't want to spend their summer on Gull island with three of your best pals?
Bloomibility by Sharon Creech has a map. More like a whimsical piece of art. It sets the tone and setting but sadly, is the only illustrated piece in the book. Don't you wish there were more illustrations in middle grade?
Another one that I love is printed on the inside cover of The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls by Elise Primavera. The map is hard to read, even with a magnifying lens, but the impact is perfect.
A few books make it necessary to provide a map, some type of guidance system for the reader. The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrau has two: One on the back jacket flap and another on the first two pages. Both are beautifully illustrated and both are helpful for following the story.
Perhaps the most classic map of all is The Sea of Knowledge Map in The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster. Who wouldn't want to travel to the Foothills of Confusion or The Mountains of Ignorance?
One of my favorite books, Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale, has a map, but it's a bit of a disappointment. It doesn't match the richness of the story or the text. Oh well, at least it makes some sense of the Eight Realms.
Of course, this post is not random. I've been visualizing my own story's map for quite some time now. The aerial view of Greenwood Academy; the equestrian center, the gymnastic and skating complex, the woods where the tragic accident occurred, the maze, etc. I thought I had it locked in my brain, but confusion from my fellow critique partners prompted a closer look.
How do the buildings piece together? How far apart are the complexes? What's the topography like? How are the dorm rooms separated?
I finally took some time the other day to draw something. I've attempted this before, but when logistics crashed with actual descriptions, I threw away the pencil and went back to the keyboard. No will notice, I said. But they did.
Here's what I came up with:
My map of Greenwood Academy
My map of Greenwood Academy
It's rough. And dry. Not a lot of exciting visual elements but it provides a much needed overview of my setting. I even added faculty housing. Never once thought about where the headmistress or Coach Jennings lived. Next task? Doing a detailed drawing of the main building. Addressing issues like how the dorms are connected, where the dining hall is, if a dining hall annex is needed and how far away is the library that connects to the secret passage?
I wish there were a drawing program out there that can could create this for you. Just plug in your needs and poof! A beautiful map of you fictional setting.
Of course, there is. They're called artists.