Fall 2019 Publishers’ Preview: Five Questions for Julie Dillemuth

Publishers' Previews: Special advertising supplement in The Horn Book Magazine

This interview originally appeared in the September/October 2019 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Fall 2019 Publishers’ Previews, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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Camilla, Cartographer has a treasured collection of maps, but a blizzard in her woodland home means she has to make a new one.

1. You’re a geographer. How much math is involved, he asked shyly.

Geography is about how people and the earth interact, and as with any science, there’s math. Many people have “math anxiety” (and there’s also “spatial anxiety”) and it’s contagious—their kids may pick it up, too. But learning math and spatial concepts in a practical and fun, real-world way, such as through making and using maps, can reduce these anxieties.

2. Has a map ever led you to visit a place?

I love that idea—sounds like a great premise for a novel. When I travel to a new city, I like to get a big paper map that shows me everything, and then I figure out how many places I can visit with my limited time.

3. What can paper maps do that digital ones cannot?

They can unfold. Paper maps let you see a large area all at once. You can put your fingers on places and judge distances; you can see shapes of large areas all in one view. With a digital map on a small display, you either zoom in for details  or zoom out to see more area but lose detail. So while digital maps may give you the whole world in your pocket, paper maps have a lot of value. And, ha ha, they don’t need batteries or an internet connection.

4. Can you recommend a world atlas? And tell Santa?

The National Geographic Atlas of the World is gorgeous but pricey, definitely a wish-list item. There are some fascinating map collections out there with specific themes, like The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands, edited by Huw Lewis-Jones. On a recent trip my eight-year-old was totally engaged by the Rand McNally Kids’ Road Atlas—it’s brilliantly both an atlas and an activity book.

5. Has everywhere been mapped?

Actually, everywhere will never be fully mapped, because a map tells a story about a place depending on what the cartographer chooses to represent. Thematic maps, which include data on a particular topic, will change over time with new data. There will always be new things to map. But if you want to get technical, the ocean floor remains about eighty percent unmapped.


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