Last year, a site called Kidlandia started letting kids and parents collaborate to customize fantasy maps of a kid’s world, combining place names that referenced people in the child’s life with fanciful critters designed by Kidlandia founder Brian Backus. On Monday, Kidlandia underwent renovations that make the map-designing process slicker and more interactive, letting families place characters and buildings anywhere on the map and annotate locations with lore about them. You can order handsome glicee prints of the maps to hang on the wall; prices range from $40 to $180.
In an era of 3D virtual worlds and social networks for folks of all ages, Kidlandia is strikingly old-fashioned: The maps are apologetically two-dimensional and look hand-crafted, and any socializing that goes on occurs as a family crowds around the computer to customize a kingdom’s regions and inhabitants. Backus told me that the site will also offer jigsaw puzzles, and is considering other products that could be printed with a child’s map imagery, such as clothing and placemats. Mostly, though, he wants to keep it as a place where families can have fun together and create something that can hang on a wall and stay in the family as an heirloom. But the site’s fun even if all you do is enjoy the map on-screen or print it out at home for free.