If Wes Anderson were a novelist, this is the novel he’d write.
This is 29-year-old Larsen’s first novel, and he is incredibly, almost supernaturally, gifted.
Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet is a 12-year-old genius, the son of a silent Montana cowboy born 100 years too late and an entomologist more interested in tracking a rare tiger beetle than in her family.
T.S. is an exceptional cartographer and scientific illustrator, contributing to various magazines, such as Scientific American and Science.
In his color-coded notebooks, he maps loneliness, the way his sister shucks corn, the way his dad drinks whiskey, the plot of “Moby-Dick,” how the parts of a train correspond to the parts of a sandwich, and all the possible outcomes of Cat’s Cradle, among thousands of other phenomena.
When his illustration of a rare beetle is given the prestigious Baird award by the Smithsonian — the institute assumes T.S. is an older gent — he hops a train and hoboes his way to Washington, D.C.
In reviews, you’ll read that this book is “whimsical” — a word I hate, because it’s vague, semi-meaningless, and kinda lame.