“The tale of map-obsessed outcast TS Spivet is captivating but it’s the intricate illustrations…that make this a rewardingly unique read.”



“…a journey through life’s mysteries great and small, and about how on earth a boy with a telescope, four compasses and a theodolite should set about solving them.”

“The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet” by Reif Larsen is one of the most wonderful, endearing and fascinating books I’ve ever read.

When I took a copy to start writing a review, I couldn’t help it, I was immediately drawn into it and had to read it again. Because this boy, T.S., is a very special boy in a very special story.

When the twelve-year-old ingenious map-drawer with the complicated family background is invited to come to the Smithsonian Institution to receive an award for his scientific work, nobody in Washington seems to have a clue that he is a child. Without telling his family, T.S. leaves home for a fantastic trip from Montana to Washington. Unbelievable and amazing things happen on his way and make the book “unputdownable” until you’ve reached the final page. As the story unfolds, questions emerge like “Who is who?”, “Who knows what?”, “What’s real?”, “What’s important?” We adopt the world-view of T.S. and are absorbed by his way of experiencing new and strange worlds around him.

All this time the reader has to choose between the text and the incredibly good and precise drawings, maps, tables… that illustrate every double page. They are more an intensifier than a distraction, though, and they help to make this an unforgettable reading experience.

Having said all that, the “Back-to-my-home-and-family-where-I-belong-ending” of the book seemed a bit of a flaw to me. Maybe it couldn’t have been avoided; I don’t know for sure. Maybe it’s a consolation for some, that behind all the misery, the mystery, the adventure and the abyss of not-knowing-what-to -think-about-it there is an background of basic needs which is finally fulfilled. For me it’s a consolation that behind our basic needs, fulfilled or not, there is all that misery, mystery and adventure, the insecurity which at the same time opens billions of possibilities and prevents banality. No matter which way you put – in every life there’s more to it than meets the eye, and this book makes you detect it – visually, emotionally and by telling one of the most amazing stories you’ll ever come across in a book.


Reviewed by:

English Bookshop

Added 8th March 2016