Maps and other exciting things!

I want to start out by mentioning that my post about books came a few days too soon, because it was just shy of the release date of No Small Bills, Aaron’s latest novel.  It has only been out a few days, and has already been featured on the NOOK blog, and made it onto the NOOK bestsellers list! Hearty congratulations to Aaron, who is presently fighting off a cold.  No Small Bills was one of the books I had the privilege of reading as it was being written, and it made me literally laugh out loud.  If you know me, you know that this is not something I frequently do when reading. Unless something strikes me as particularly hilarious, I generally grin, possible chuckle a little bit. No Small Bills has several points where I had to stop for a second because I was laughing so hard! It is a great respite from the kind of serious, heavy, mess-with-your-head books I generally seek out. I recommend it to anyone needing a little extra laughter.


Now…let’s talk about maps! Over the Summer, i had several creative crafting projects planned for the kids.  One day, we got out huge sheets of construction paper, a bunch of stickers, scrapbook paper, stencils, and markers, and we made maps! It was a great deal of fun, and I had the opportunity to flex my creative geekery by making a fantasy map and imagining the history and culture of the place I was creating.Here is the picture I took with my iPhone, which probably could have been more adequately lit:

Jen's Fantasy Map
My fantasy map

So, not only was it fun for all of us, but I got to know a little more about how my kids think.  The Pixie made a treasure map of a fairyland that was roughly based on the layout of our house. There were bodies of water where there are sinks or tubs, and mountains where there are stairs. The seeker would find him or herself in my daughter’s room, where a picture she had drawn was hidden.  The Little Dude got very tricky with his map.  He cut it into pieces and hid them. Each piece would give a clue as to where you would find the next piece, and when you assembled them all, you were led to the computer, where he promptly requested to go online and play Phineas and Ferb games on the Disney website. Clever, no?

So, naturally, I was very excited to hear that my daughter’s third grade class will be creating maps this year! I look forward to this project, and to seeing what the Pixie comes up with for her next map! Speaking of maps, one of the things I love about fantasy worlds is that you generally get maps i the book, and you can refer back to follow the course the characters are taking, or to see how near two people are to each other! I actually spend a good amount of time poring over maps in the books I read, and I must admit that I love Google Earth, where I can plot out a course in real terrain.  I haven’t yet tried the Google Earth flight simulator, but if I ever find some genuine free time, I totally will!

My son came home from school with a simple map of the United States. It was just for reference, but I decided it would be a fun opportunity to show the kids where they had been, so we took out a crayon and colored in the states.  I was able to give them a slightly better perspective on where they live, and we were able to recall fun times in different locations. I have recently received my textbook for my next class, which is going to be World History to 1500 – and I can’t wait to devour the maps within! It will be awesome to see what mattered then vs. now, and see the populations centers, the layouts… I’m sure they won’t go into anywhere near as much detail as I want to see, but I am happy to see as much as I can!

When I was a kid, I used to create little towns, with maps, in a journal. I wrote up the entire background of everyone in the town, plotted out where they worked and what they did… and it was awesome! This skill became incredibly useful later on when I started regularly gaming! This obsession is probably also part of why I can get sucked into games like Civilization and not realize that twelve hours have passed! Railroad Tycoon completely swallowed my soul before I had kids! I get to build up around railroads, manage resources, and plot out the best route on maps? Sold! Oh, that was so much fun! I need to refrain from digging out my old DreamCast and playing…I have a paper to write!


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