Question: Tools for the Beginning Cartographer?

Skip Armstrong works for an adventure travel company in Costa Rica, and would like to make a map. But he’s not sure where to start:

I would like to create a map of the rivers of Costa Rica and would like some input on how this might be done. I would like to use Adobe Illustrator but am in the dark on any other tools/software that might be available. Also, what books would you reccomend to a cartographer just getting started?

Skip’s question is applicable to anyone who wants to start a map and doesn’t know where to begin. MAPublisher comes immediately to mind — it’s a set of map plugins for Adobe Illustrator (see previous entry) — but it’s expensive, and Skip hasn’t mentioned how much detail he wants: an overview for publicity purposes, or something more topographical? Also, while the Illustrator/MAPublisher combo is fine for professional-level mapmaking (if I’m not mistaken), is there something a bit more entry-level that even tyros like me could handle?