The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

Book - 2009
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A brilliant, boundary-leaping debut novel tracing twelve-year-old genius map maker T.S. Spivet's attempts to understand the ways of the world

When twelve-year-old genius cartographer T.S. Spivet receives an unexpected phone call from the Smithsonian announcing he has won the prestigious Baird Award, life as normal-if you consider mapping family dinner table conversation normal-is interrupted and a wild cross-country adventure begins, taking T.S. from his family ranch just north of Divide, Montana, to the museum's hallowed halls.

T.S. sets out alone, leaving before dawn with a plan to hop a freight train and hobo east. Once aboard, his adventures step into high gear and he meticulously maps, charts, and illustrates his exploits, documenting mythical wormholes in the Midwest, the urban phenomenon of "rims," and the pleasures of McDonald's, among other things. We come to see the world through T.S.'s eyes and in his thorough investigation of the outside world he also reveals himself.

As he travels away from the ranch and his family we learn how the journey also brings him closer to home. A secret family history found within his luggage tells the story of T.S.'s ancestors and their long-ago passage west, offering profound insight into the family he left behind and his role within it. As T.S. reads he discovers the sometimes shadowy boundary between fact and fiction and realizes that, for all his analytical rigor, the world around him is a mystery.

All that he has learned is tested when he arrives at the capital to claim his prize and is welcomed into science's inner circle. For all its shine, fame seems more highly valued than ideas in this new world and friends are hard to find.

T.S.'s trip begins at the Copper Top Ranch and the last known place he stands is Washington, D.C., but his journey's movement is far harder to track: How do you map the delicate lessons learned about family and self? How do you depict how it feels to first venture out on your own? Is there a definitive way to communicate the ebbs and tides of heartbreak, loss, loneliness, love? These are the questions that strike at the core of this very special debut.

Now a major motion picture directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Kyle Catlett and Helena Bonham Carter.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2009.
ISBN: 9781594202179
Branch Call Number: FIC LARSEN
Characteristics: 374 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.


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Feb 25, 2018

This is a book which has side notes and drawings in the margins. Since it involves cartography and drawing, it is helpful, but sometimes it can be a distraction. Reading this concurrently with David Foster Wallace's essays, CONSIDER THE LOBSTER, which is also wordy and full of footnotes... it makes one consider the direction of contemporary writing.

With that said, I enjoyed reading this book quite a lot. I liked the main story, of T.S. Spivet and his adventures from Divide, Montana to Washington, D.C. I felt a lot of empathy for him when he reached Washington, and became the center of attention. He handled it beautifully for a person of any age, let alone a 12-year old.

Oct 22, 2015

I will be in 10/23 to pick this up I have been on vacation

Aug 09, 2012

Ok, I have to admit, I picked up this book because I really liked the cover design. I thought it was going to be a cute story about a smart 12 year old boy traveling across the country, but I should have known better than to underestimate young adult lit. Larsen describes the American lanscape like a pioneer seeing it for the first time. His characters are emotionally complex and heart-breaking. I definitely cried in public while reading this book. Don't let the illustrations and young main character mislead you, adults will enjoy this book too.

Dec 07, 2011

A beautifully illustrated book about a 12 year old genius who jumps trains across the USA, to accept an award from the Smithsonian Institute.
He makes sense of life by drawing detailed maps of everything he sees, from family dinner conversations, facial expressions, flight paths of bats etc.

Jun 25, 2011

Genuis and angst found in one 12 year old boy , T.S. Spivit, who is compelled to diagram everything he encounters so as to understand it. Living on an isolated ranch in Montana with a dad of few words, a mom always in her lab, searching for elusive beetles, sister Gracie the family cook (watch out for Gracie's Specials), and the ghost of his dead brother. His quest: To reach the Smithsonian and recieve a prestigious award, diagraming evey step of the way , on railroad cars, and big rigs.

Apr 04, 2011

This is the best book I've read in a long time! The story is compellingly told through the eyes of 12-year-old genius cartographer, T.S. Spivet. It NEEDS a sequel though. It ended way too abruptly.

Feb 11, 2011

This is a highly original book, both in terms of its story line and the manner in which it is written/illustrated. If you're looking for conventional novels, this isn't it. It would be especially attractive to anyone with a love for maps and geography.

Jacob Sinclair
Jan 10, 2011

This was a great book. The only thing keeping it from a five star rating is the ending.

Nov 09, 2010

one of my favorite books of the year. captures the wonder and fear and fearlessness of being young in an old person world. rushes a bit at the end to get you where you need to go, but the story, characters,and the meta-text of illustrations and asides make it feel like you're at the end of the whip. enjoyable.

Sep 30, 2009

Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet is a 12-year-old genius cartographer who lives on a ranch in Montana. He maps everything, from creek drainage systems to corn shucking movements to cicada wings. His teachers are not appreciative of the effort T.S. puts into his Grade 7 school projects. For the unit on photosynthesis, T.S. made intricate diagrams of the opening and closing of a plant's stoma. "Mr. Stenpock had given me a C on the project for not properly following his instructions, but I was later given some vindication by publishing the illustration in Discover." His work has also been published in an number of other scientific magazines and at the Smithsonian Institute. Illustrations and footnote-like asides take up about a third of each page in this novel, adding a whimsical touch and giving us insight into the unusual workings of T.S.'s mind.

T.S. and his parents and sister are each grieving privately the death of the youngest member of the family, 10-year-old Layton. Not a lot of communication happens in this family. When someone from the Smithsonian phones to tell T.S. he has won a prestigious award and to invite him to speak at an upcoming banquet, T.S. decides not to disabuse the man of the notion that T.S. is an adult. He also decides not to say anything to his parents, but to get to Washington, D.C. on his own. It is a road trip as unique as the boy making the journey.

This is primarily a novel for adults, but anyone from about Grade 5 and up who likes reading about interesting characters will enjoy this funny and tender story.


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