Slippery Map

Slippery Map

3.7 4
by N. E. Bode, Brandon Dorman

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If you've ever whiled away an afternoon dreaming of another world, then you know that place is real.

Oyster R. Motel has dreamed of another world for almost his whole life. (But that's only understandable—he's been raised in a nunnery. Do you think nuns approve of swinging from the belfry? Of raising tadpoles in the holy water? Of playing the organ at all


If you've ever whiled away an afternoon dreaming of another world, then you know that place is real.

Oyster R. Motel has dreamed of another world for almost his whole life. (But that's only understandable—he's been raised in a nunnery. Do you think nuns approve of swinging from the belfry? Of raising tadpoles in the holy water? Of playing the organ at all hours? They do not.)

Oyster didn't even know that imaginations could be mapped; he barely knew he had an imagination. But then a gust of wind and a distant voice send him on a dizzying ride in a silver bucket, and Oyster finds himself, his own map in hand, in someone else's imaginary world—a place where rivers breathe and sugar snows down from the sky. Whose world is it? And what does it have to do with Oyster's map? You'll have to read the book to find out.

Imagine that.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

At the heart of this inventive, far-reaching fantasy is Oyster R. Motel, an earnest 10-year-old raised in a nunnery shared by 13 nuns who have taken vows of silence-anticipating objections to a boy in a "nunnery," the author interjects: "You can't be overly rigid about the English language. (Nurses don't live in nurseries! Novels don't live in novelties!)" But as he grows up, normally and noisily, he wears out his welcome with everyone but the nun he thinks of as Sister Mary Many Pockets, who found him as an abandoned infant (she named him for the motel towel wrapped around him). On a rare venture outside, Oyster meets a old woman who maps children's Imagined Other Worlds. She tells him of two youngsters-later revealed as Oyster's parents-who once slipped inside the map they created, traveling through the Gulf of Wind and Darkness into their imagined world, never to return. Accompanied by a dachshund belonging to the nunnery's child-hating lone employee, Oyster is soon transported through that same Slippery Map to the Other World, where the evil Dark Mouth holds his parents prisoners. In a Harry Potter-esque twist, Oyster is heralded as "the boy," the long-awaited hero entreated to take up his parents' crusade to destroy the villain and end his cruel regime. Writing as Bode (The Anybodies), Julianna Baggott effortlessly renders an expansive, entertainingly quirky cast of creatures benign and malevolent. Her snappy prose makes the case for the story's explicit messages about the value of unbridled imagination. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

Gr 4-7
Throughout Baltimore, children are falling victim to the Awful MTDs-Mysterious Temporary Disappearances. One minute there, then, poof! Gone. And with another poof, returned. Adults find it quite disconcerting, but Oyster R. Motel, a 10-year-old orphan who lives in a nunnery, longs for the adventure of an MTD. One day, he enters a dusty old shop full of scrolls and discovers the ancient Mapkeeper, charged with recording the Imagined Other Worlds of children. Oyster is pulled into one of them and learns that the disappearances of other children have been bungled attempts to get him into Boneland, the imaginary world that his parents created many years ago. It has taken on a life of its own, and as a result of the Foul Revolution, his parents are now prisoners of the evil Dark Mouth. Along with his companion Leatherbelly, a timid dachshund, he sets out to find the parents he has never met and to prevent Dark Mouth from using the Slippery Map to slide into the real world. Through his adventures, he comes to understand the power of unleashed imagination and discovers the true meaning of family. This story does not have the effortless humor and whimsy that made The Anybodies (HarperCollins, 2004) shine. The cast of characters is confusing, as are all the locations that Oyster must traverse to reach the final destination, and parts of the story drag. Dorman's pencil drawings of the various characters add a light touch; it's unfortunate that there's no detailed image of the Slippery Map, with the various locations laid out. Purchase where Bode has a loyal following.
—Kim DareCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
The author of The Anybodies series invites readers to use their imaginations and join ten-year-old Oyster R. Motel on a curious quest. Mysterious Temporary Disappearances (MTDs) are claiming local children in the town where orphaned Oyster has lived with a community of caring contemplative nuns (including Sister Mary Many Pockets and Sister Margaret of the Long Sighs and Withering Glare) since he was dumped at their gate as an infant. During a rare foray to the outside world, Oyster meets the Mapkeeper-caretaker of scrolls depicting Imagined Other Worlds (IOWs)-and learns that his parents long ago stole their shared map, slipped into the otherworld of stories they created as children and are trapped in that world, a miasma of Devil's Snuff (powdered sugar) with Vicious Goggles, Whining Growsels and all manner of unusual beasts and beings. Someone-or something-seems to be calling Oyster to save them. Inventive and an awful lot of fun, "it's all as real as you want it to be," and it will surely be a catalyst for creative thinking. (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.97(d)
660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Slippery Map

Chapter One

The Awful MTDs
(Baltimore, South of Pratt Street)

It had been a fearful summer. Mrs. Fishback had told the nuns so. She got her news from the mini-TV that she brought with her each morning when she came to work in the nunnery kitchen.

"The Awful MTDs," Mrs. Fishback told the nuns over lunch on this one particular day. Her pudgy nose flushed with agitation, and maybe a little joy, because Mrs. Fishback was the kind of person who enjoyed a fearful summer. "Mysterious Temporary Disappearances. Kids, always kids, disappearing! Poof! Just gone! Then time passes and poof! They're back! " She explained with great relish how one girl had disappeared into her Hula Hoop. She was from the next town over and went missing for thirty minutes. Her mother was holding the hoop in her living room, weeping, with the police all around, and then the girl bounced back out of the hoop, like she'd been given a good shove.

Mrs. Fishback continued on from her perch on a kitchen stool near her mini-TV and the phone where she made all official nunnery calls, patting the fatty rump of her dog, a dachshund named Leatherbelly who had a narrow snout and labored to breathe. "Two more kids disappeared into tire swings, another into her grandmother's sofa cushions. Four minutes gone for one. Three minutes missing for another. A boy in Arbutus was gone three hours after stepping into a box that had packaged a refrigerator." She smiled brightly through the tender description of the whole town gathered around the box, keeping vigil till he was belched back into the world. "Alvin Peterly. Poor boy!" She shook her head. "And who knowswhat will happen today? Maybe one will disappear for good!" And then she added, with terrible glee in her voice, "Wouldn't that be awful?"

Mrs. Fishback hated children even though she had seven of them. (Or perhaps because she had seven of them; it's hard to say with some folks.) If she wasn't spouting off about something horrible on the news, she was complaining about her children, who were all grown now and lived far away—as did Mr. Fishback. That didn't stop her from griping that the children and Mr. Fishback had always been too messy, too loud, too costly, too rude, too runty, too slow, too feisty, too dull, too whiny, too piggish, too foul. She often said, "I should have thrown all of them out on their ears!"

She had taken the administrator job in the nunnery a few months earlier because, she assumed, there would be no children in it.

She was wrong.

This nunnery was home to thirteen nuns and one ten-year-old boy named Oyster.

As you know, ten-year-old boys aren't supposed to live in nunneries. Right now you might be saying to yourself, "Nuns are supposed to live in nunneries; that's why they're called nunneries!" Well, yes, true, but life is odd, you know, and you can't be overly rigid about the English language. (Nurses don't live in nurseries! Novels don't live in novelties! No, no. And they don't just live in novelists either; they live in hearts, you know, and everyone's got a heart.) Plus, it wasn't strange to Oyster to be living in a nunnery, even this nunnery where all of the nuns had taken vows of silence. He'd lived in a nunnery ever since he could remember, ever since he was an infant dropped off at the nunnery's gate wrapped in a Royal Motel towel and placed in a Dorsey's Pickled Foods box. This was his home.

And he was in the kitchen this very day, putting his soup bowl in the kitchen sink, in a row of nuns who were also putting their bowls in the kitchen sink. And it should be noted that when Mrs. Fishback had said, "Maybe one will disappear for good!" she'd looked at Oyster, her eyebrows bearing down so that her eyes—a cold, vicious blue—looked hooded and shadowy in a grim way.

Mrs. Fishback had it in for him.

And at this point, Oyster didn't need anyone having it in for him. You see, the nuns had quite loved Oyster when he was a baby and when he was a cute little boy. But he was now ten, and that was a different thing altogether. He'd gotten older and antsier every year, and this summer he just couldn't stand his quiet nunnery life anymore. He wasn't able to hold himself back.

For example, when no one was in the chapel, he jumped the pews front to back like a hurdler. Once, because he could resist it no longer, he pulled the rope on the giant bell in the belfry and went riding back and forth and all around under the bell's skirt, flying, feeling like he himself was being rung and not the bell at all. Another time he'd pumped the organ—which was off-limits because it was much too loud. He simply couldn't resist it any longer. Dust spouted up from its pipes until the long notes rose in a sonorous mishmash. And he was growing a tadpole in the holy water. It was wrong, yes. But the tadpole was so happy!

The nuns, on the other hand, were not so happy. There was a complaint box drilled to the chapel wall, and the nuns filled it each week with complaints about Oyster, which were discussed in a flurry of note-scribbling at a weekly meeting that Oyster wasn't permitted to attend. He would read the notes later, however, because he was the one in charge of dumping wastebaskets, and he would sort through the notes in his room. The main thing was this: they wanted him to be more nunlike.

One had written: Does he see us jumping pews, pumping organs, riding the bell cord in the belfry? No, he does not!

There was only one nun who always stuck up for him: Sister Mary Many Pockets, as he'd named her early on because of the many things she always had in the many pockets hidden in the long skirt of her habit—rosaries, peanuts, scissors, tape, cough drops, a tennis ball—anything, really, that you might need.

The Slippery Map. Copyright � by N. Bode. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

The elusive and charming N. E. Bode writes from a secret locale beneath a giant, unmarked tree in the middle of Central Park. Some great works born from this hidden perch include The Anybodies, The Nobodies, and The Somebodies. N. E. Bode would also like to mention the books of Julianna Baggott, trusted friend, who writes novels and poetry for grown-ups and lives in the Florida panhandle.

Brandon Dorman lives in Puyallup, Washington, and is the creator of Pirates of the Sea! and Santa's Stowaway, and the illustrator of Jack Prelutsky's Be Glad Your Nose Is on Your Face, as well as Halloween Night, by Marjorie Dennis Murray.

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Slippery Map 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have always loved this book. I highly recomend it to those of us who spend hours simply thinking of another world. Enjoy,fellow dreamers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg. Loved it. Must read!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What is this book i don' t like it.