I honestly wasn’t sure if Miss M and I would enjoy, Carry on Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham when I added it to our United States History Year 1 reading list for this year. But given that it’s a Newberry award winner (1956), and it is a recommended choice from Sonlight’s list of American history titles, I decided to go ahead and give it a try — I’m glad we did!
Carry on Mr. Bowditch is a fictionalized biography of a real person, Nathanael Bowditch, who lived from 1773 to 1838. The story opens with Nat Bowditch as a precocious young boy who shocks his school teacher with all the math he has learned to do all by himself. He dreams of a bright future for himself as a “Harvard man” when he is old enough for college. But instead of preparing for college, his family’s financial situation forces him to leave school and work in his father’s business. Then at age 12, he is indentured for a nine year term to a chandlery (a store that sells all the items needed for ships).
He took every opportunity to continue his education on his own during those nine years, and he is soon a master of several languages, science and mathematical concepts and all things nautical. After his term in the chandlrey is completed, Nat Bowditch takes to the sea, where he develops better methods of navigation and eventually writes a book for which he is still famous — The American Practical Navigator.
Miss M appreciated the adventure aspect of this story. Nat Bowditch’s travels on shipboard take him all over the world and Miss M was eager each night to find out how these adventures would work themselves out. I found the details in Carry on Mr. Bowditch to be fascinating. I always enjoy learning about a new subject, and nautical navigation was certainly a new subject for me!
As I was reading this book to Miss M I ran across a number of great quotes I thought I might include in a review of this book…but unfortunately holiday busyness got in the way of writing this post in a timely manner (we finished this book mid-December!), and I had to return my copy to the library. It’s definitely a title I’ll be remembering to read to the boys when they get a bit older. Nathanael Bowditch is a great example of a man who worked hard to make something of himself despite the obstacles in his path.
I’ll be linking up with Read Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!