Books for Kids: Back on the Map

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Back on the Map
Sky Pony Press / Thomas Allen & Sons
By Lisa Ann Scott
320 pages
age 8 to 12

Synopsis from Sky Pony Press:

While Penny embraces the question marks in her family tree, she and Porter are both ready for a real home. Living with their aging, ornery Grauntie isn’t easy, but it’s better than other places they’ve been, and they don’t want to get moved again—or worse, split up. Penny believes the key to keeping them from being bounced to another new home is getting their town of New Hope, North Carolina back on the state map. And what better way to do that than to spruce up and sell New Hope’s Finest—an old orphanage that was supposed to reopen years ago as the best attraction ever, but never did. She’s got the creativity and the gumption to do it. And maybe knowing who you are doesn’t matter so much as knowing what you can do. But will that be enough to finally keep her and Parker in one place for good?

I did a post on why parents should read middle grade books. The idea that they are helpful for adults dealing with anxiety is an interesting idea and Back on the Map is a great example of why. The story deals with tough issues like being a foster child or being shuttled from home to home, trying to fit in, being different, growing up but staying a child. Penny is an amazing child, forget her gift to see people’s mood as a physical colour or aura around them. She takes on the adult role at a young age, taking care of her twin brother and her grauntie (the one who is suppose to look after them). She never lets it dampen her spirit and uses her inner strength to support her creative initiatives including the biggest one of all, revamping an old building in the town of New Hope.

I love that Penny is the lead character, in the form of being the story teller but also in her actions within the story. She needs to find ways to get repairs done at the house or provide food for the family so she develops a trade system, her art for a favour. She uses her ingenuity to create wonderful art see the possibility in discarded objects. She inspires first a small group of friends and then the whole town to get behind her refurbishment idea. She doesn’t let self doubt or the local nay sayers discourage her from following her plan.

Back on the Map reminds kids that they can achieve great things if they put some courage and determination behind these ideas; change doesn’t have to rely on adults. It’s an optimistic and enthusiastic story. Even I walked away feeling light hearted and inspired.

You can get an inside peek at this book in the following video review, published within our Middle Grade Book playlist:

Additional The Courage Test.

You can find a copy of Back on the Map from Sky Pony Press/Thomas Allen & Sons or your local bookstore. Visit our Kid’s Books section for other great book recommendations.

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