Kätlin Vainola. “The Boy Who Drew Maps”

Reading sample

Once upon a time there was a boy who needed all kinds of maps and floor plans. They helped him to solve problems. The boy was called Mark.

Mark lived in a big house with his family. He’d drawn a floor plan of nearly every single room in the house.

The floor plans showed all the ways he could go and the boy did nothing but trek all over the house.

Mark had a folder with a golden arrow showing where he kept the maps he had finished.

To make his maps he needed lots of different papers, pencils, a ruler a tape-measure, a compass and crayons.

And a writing desk.

The very first map Mark drew was of the lounge. He needed it when he wanted to change the TV channel.

The problem was that Grandad spent most of the day in front of the TV watching the basketball. Mark didn’t like basketball. This was a problem he needed to solve.

He needed to draw a map to work out how to move silently around the room, scramble to the top of the cupboard and drip water onto Grandad’s head.

Then Grandad would always turn off the TV, climb up onto the roof and begin banging with a hammer. He thought there was a leak up there that needed mending.

In the meantime, Mark would put the TV back on in the lounge and flick over to the cartoon channel. He would sink happily into an easy chair. Grandad would usually be on the roof for ages.

He needed the second map to find the sweets.

The sweets were on the middle shelf of the kitchen cupboard behind the coffee jar. They were only allowed to come out when they’d eaten all their dinner. But Mark sometimes needed sweets before dinner or at night or well, whenever he happened to think about them.

Mark drew a map showing everything in the kitchen. The sweet jar was marked with a cross.

The map also showed Grandma making soup. There was a red circle around her. It meant danger. The journey could begin!

/…/

There was only one room that hadn’t been mapped. It worried him. That room was the attic. And the attic was dark and full of cobwebs. Grandma and Grandad always asked Mark to go with them when they wanted to fetch anything from there. Mark never said yes. Dad wanted Mark to overcome his nervousness and fitted a lamp in there.

But the lamp made things worse. It gave little light, created shadows and showed up all the cobwebs.

The attic was full of horrors for the boy even during the day because the light came through just one tiny window. Behind every old cupboard or chest of drawers there might be a goblin or a vampire.

How could he make a map of it? Mark knew that if he thought about the things he might need then he would have the courage to start work. But not a single good idea entered his head.

One evening he gathered everything up and climbed into the attic. All by himself in the dark. He didn’t even have a torch with him. Mark had decided to find all the goblins and vampires.

“I need a map, I need a map,” he whispered to himself.

Mark explored the whole attic, felt every item, and measured with his hands, fingers and feet. He opened cupboard doors, drawers, and travelling trunks. At first it was completely nerve-wracking, but the more he measured, felt and thought, the less nervous he felt. And gradually his nervousness slipped his mind completely.

Eventually Mark ran back down the stairs to sit at his desk and plot the entire attic on paper. It became the most important map he had ever drawn.

Next morning he picked it up and went back up the attic stairs. He was about to note down all the scary creatures that lived in the dark.

Translated by Susan Wilson