Carry On, Mr Bowditch

Latham, Jean Lee. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1955.

Read this in a day. May is National History month and while that alone was a good excuse to read Carry On I also chose to read it because of Kon-Tiki. Seemed like the perfect transition.

This was reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s account about growing up in the unorganized territories of the midwest in the Little House series; better known as historical fiction. I call it biographical with a little imagination thrown in. It covers the life of Nathanial Bowditch, navigator extraordinaire. While the details of his childhood and subsequent personal adult years are somewhat abbreviated for adults, the content is perfect for children. I appreciated the way Latham didn’t minimized or sugarcoat the tragedy in Bowditch’s life. Nor did she gloss over his relationships with his first wife Elizabeth, or Polly, his second. What does come across is Bowditch’s love of mathematics and the seriousness with which he applies it to navigating the high seas. He does not suffer fools easily but his passion for teaching is enthusiastic and patient.

Favorite lines: “Sometimes women get a little upset about the sea” (p 71). Well, can you blame them? Husbands were gone for months and even years. Sometimes they didn’t come home at all. Another line I liked “You know, you’re real humanlike – in spite of your brains” (p 86). Funny.

Book Trivia: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch won Latham a Newbery Medal.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Historical Fiction for Kids of All Ages” (p 114).



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