Reviews /

An Atlas of Lost Kingdoms

Authored by Emily Hawkins
Illustrated by Lauren Baldo
Published by Wide Eyed Editions

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This fascinating book is not an atlas.

How could anyone accurately chart islands glimpsed through sea mist which disappear never to be seen again? Or Great cities beneath the sea that leave no trace of habitation? Or hoards of gold, stored in ancient palaces, just waiting to be found? Although there are many maps in An Atlas of Lost Kingdoms that can easily be recognised as continents, readers are warned right at the beginning of the book, that,

‘The maps aren’t real in the strictest sense; they reveal a land of the imagination. They show the places associated with legends and stories, as well as destinations sought by explorers and reassure-hunters over the centuries.’

As a child I was obsessed with Greek mythology, archaeology and tales of ancient civilisations so I was delighted to receive this to review. I have thoroughly enjoyed flicking from page to page, revisiting familiar legends and finding newly described ‘lost lands’ from across the globe. I like to think of the millions of years before any records were kept. All shared knowledge depended on memories, not texts, and survival could never be taken for granted. Living in an uncertain world where earthquakes, volcanos and floods could occur without warning, people needed explanations. This ‘atlas’ may contain imagined geography, but it is also hard evidence of a global phenomenon. The author has collected examples of legends from across the world about many years of human’s response to living on a small, unreliable, but infinitely beautiful, planet. The different legends are the stories told by wise men and women for millennia. The collection of places, events and magical happenings come from humanity’s need for stories and great powers of imagination, ingenuity and invention.

Does An Atlas of lost Kingdoms have a place in classrooms? Yes – the myths and legends of all cultures must be shared in schools as widely as possible. This book may spark curiosity in readers to explore stories from pre-history and ancient records.