Friday, May 11, 2012

It's the Journey, not the Destination

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by
Reif Larson

Have you ever mapped the history of your phone cord, or diagrammed the length at which pants become shorts? How about charting the path of a dinner conversation or illustrating the motion vectors of a man on a bucking bronco? If you’ve never thought about doing those things, don’t worry. T.S. Spivet has you covered.

Twelve-year-old T.S. Spivet is a scientist and a mapmaker. Sure, he lives on a remote ranch in Montana, a setting more attuned to cowboys than the cutting edge, but he’s got talent. So much talent that his illustrations appear regularly in scientific journals. He’s making such a splash, in fact, that the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. calls one day to offer him an award. The problem is he has to travel most of the way across the country to accept it. Oh, and they don’t know he’s only twelve. Or that he hasn’t told his parents what he’s up to.

But T.S. has a plan, and sets out on a journey that will take him further from home than he’s ever been before. Toting his cartographic equipment along with him, he illustrates the journey as he travels, exploring the country around him and learning about the history of his own family with an old journal he borrowed from his mother on his way out of town. (She doesn’t know about that either.)

This book is a wonder. You’ll enjoy the perspective of the naive protagonist, while wincing at all the risks he takes throughout the book. The illustrations provide excellent insight into our young hero’s mind and add a touch of humor as well. You’ll be rooting for T.S. Spivet from beginning to end.

Review by Danny Hanbery

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