The Cat’s Nook of Books | The Mapmaker’s Children

Mapmakers children

Hey Gorgeous!

I have a new book for you to check out and I think you are going to love it. I don’t know about you all but I absolutely love historical fiction and that is exactly what this book is. What book am I talking about? The Mapmaker’s Children: A Novel by Sarah McCoy. It is a great read about two women, from different centuries, finding their place in life without children.

To give you more of an idea of what this book is about, here is the brief synopsis from Barnes and Noble:

When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril. Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance. Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.   

{ D I S C U S S I O N questions}

found at Sarah McCoy’s website

• Were you previously familiar with the Underground Railroad, John Brown’s Secret Six Committee, the Raid on Harpers Ferry, slave quilt codes and songs, and the greater Abolitionist Movement?

I have always had an interest in the Civil War and the Antebellum period, so I was familiar with the Underground Railroad and slave quilt codes. I love to read books from this period and this book was no exception.

• Sarah Brown was a courageous artist of her time. Her paintings, the process of creating them, the people she aided, and the mode in which she distributed her artwork were all dangerous and unconventional for anyone, but particularly for a woman during the Civil War. In what ways do you see the arts influencing politics and challenging societal parameters today? Who are some artists that have broadened your worldview and how?

Some artists use these arts as a way to make political or social statements. It provides an appealing way for the viewer to understand the views of the artist and maybe even share those views.

• Do you have a pet? If so, do you consider those animals family members? What’s your pets’ name(s), your favorite memory with them, and how have they impacted your life and/or the lives of your family members?

I have had lots of pets during my life – 3 dogs, 6 cats, 1 goat, 1 turtle, a handful of bunnies and several fish. They have all been apart of my family. The two that have impacted my life the most are our dog, Moses and our cat, Coco. Our dog, who has since passed away, was a big part of our family. He had a gentle personality, but if someone was in our yard that shouldn’t be, he let us know. He would lay right outside the door in our garage and if our backdoor was open, he would look inside to see what we were doing. Coco, our cat, has the best personality of any cat I have ever met. He meows at us all the time like he is having a conversation with us. And if he is mad at us, he meows even more. Coco is also a bottomless pit when it comes to food. He is ALWAYS hungry. All of our family pets hold a dear spot in my heart.

• Baking and passing on recipes is another branch of the Creating Tree. How does Eden develop her maternal side through cooking? What are some of your favorite family recipes, and how have they played a role in your traditions and history?

My grandmother instilled in me a passion for cooking. It is something she and I enjoyed doing together, even if I was just sitting in the kitchen talking to her while she prepared our favorite Southern dishes. Food and good conversation has a way of bringing people together that is unlike any other. While preparing Cricket’s food each day with Cleo, Eden finds a new side of herself. She realizes that she’s becoming a mother figure to these two and surprisingly, she loves it.

• Ms. Silverdash’s bookstore serves as the heartbeat of New Charlestown. The stories, fictional and real, are gathered and shared there. Do you have a favorite local bookstore or library in your community? If so, what’s your most cherished memory involving it?

Growing up, I visited the library monthly. I loved walking amongst the rows of shelves and pulling down the book that caught my eye. I aspired to read every book in the library when I was younger – it hasn’t happened yet! Every summer, my sister and I would participate in the summer reading program. As we read a book, we would write the names on a sheet of paper. Once we read a certain number of books, we could get prizes from the library. It was the highlight of the summer to see how many books we could read and what prizes we would receive.

• At the conclusion of the book, how do you see Eden and Sarah creating and defining their own unique families? Do you believe there exists a social stereotype of the “perfect family”? If so, discuss the positive and negative qualities, and why you believe people have adhered to these social constructs now and 150 years ago.

The definition of family is subject to personal preference. Some define family as you, your partner and a pet or two. Others consider family to be one or two parents, a couple of kids and a pet. Eden and Sarah dream of families with biological children, but they learned a new definition of family. Neither of them ended up with biological children but they did have children whom they loved.

– R A T E –

So for these book reviews, I am going to include a rating of the book. For The Mapmaker’s Children, I give this book 4 out of 4 hearts. I love the storyline and how McCoy writes the story in such a way that you connect with her characters. I also really liked how she included some of her research on Sarah Brown at the end the book for those who were interested. However, I do have one con. It took a couple of chapters for me to really get into it but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. So if it seems kinda boring at first, keep on keeping on and eventually it will get better! While it is a hardcover book, it does have a removable paper cover. The pages have that really cool aged, “ripped” edge to them. The book itself feels nice and sturdy in your hands. I can’t wait to read it again! If you have read this book or plan to in the future, leave a comment below letting me know your thoughts.

book rating

I want to give a special thanks to Blogging for Books for providing the book for this review. If you have an active blog and love to read, I definitely recommend checking them out. They have a wide range of books that come in print and ebook form. Literally something for everyone!


DISCLAIMER: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.


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  1. 1
    Ashley Servis

    This sounds like a great book! I am busy reading book(s) right now and am looking forward to sharing them. I like historical fiction and this book sounds interesting in that it provides a sense of the underground railroad, which I do enjoy learning more about. It always seems you find something new when you read books or research!

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