Carry On, Mr Bowditch- Jean Lee Latham

Synopsis: Readers today are still fascinated by “Nat,” an eighteenth-century nautical wonder and mathematical wizard. Nathaniel Bowditch grew up in a sailor’s world—Salem in the early days when tall-masted ships from foreign ports crowded the wharves. But Nat didn’t promise to have the makings of a sailor; he was too physically small. Nat may have been slight of build, but no one guessed that he had the persistence and determination to master sea navigation in the days when men sailed only by “log, lead, and lookout.” Nat’s long hours of study and observation, collected in his famous work, The American Practical Navigator (also known as the “Sailors’ Bible”), stunned the sailing community and made him a New England hero.

 

Violence

Minimal violence; a sailor was shot in the chest. Rumours and talk of war, death and shipwrecks. Characters throw knives in a scene, and someone’s leg is broken.

 

Romance

A few kisses; his first wife dies, and he later remarries.

There’s a story of two lovers founding an island.

 

Alcohol/Substance

Mention of a tavern, and character downs rum.

 

Authority

Mentions of the French revolution and talk of submission to the King and America’s independence. Slavers are mentioned in a negative light, and there are privateers in the book.

 

Language

n/a.

 

Religion

One character is a pastor, someone is said to ‘not be a Christian’. Nat uses the Bible to learn different languages. Phrases such as ‘Thank God’, ‘gospel truth’, ‘por Dios’ (which can be translated as ‘for God’s sake’) and ‘thank heaven’.

Overall feel: An educational novel that explores the life of a brilliant man and his adventures. It has sailing escapades and ventures, as well as the path of how a little boy with almost no formal education became one of the most brilliant mathematicians.

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