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Carry On, Mr. Bowditch facts for kids

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Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
JeanLeeLatham CarryOnMrBowditch.jpg
First edition cover
Author Jean Lee Latham
Cover artist John O'Hara Cosgrave II
Country United States
Language English
Series none
Genre Children's novel, biographical
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Publication date
9 September 1955
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 251
ISBN 0-395-06881-9
OCLC 15814480

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch is a novel by Jean Lee Latham that was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1956.

The book is a children's biography of Nathaniel Bowditch, a sailor and mathematician who published the mammoth and comprehensive reference work for seamen: The American Practical Navigator. It is an epic tale of adventure and learning.

Plot summary

In Revolutionary War–era Salem, Massachusetts, a young Nat Bowditch, the smallest member of a sea-faring family, astounds his schoolteacher with his talent for mathematics. He dreams of someday attending Harvard University but is forced by his family's financial hardships to quit school and work in his father's cooperage. Even that sacrifice isn't enough, and his family contracts him into indentured servitude at a chandlery. Determined to continue his education, he uses his nine years as a clerk to teach himself subjects such as trigonometry, calculus, Latin, and French.

Upon the fulfillment of his servitude, he takes a job as a surveyor, which quickly evolves into a career as an officer and supercargo on various merchant ships. Numerous voyages take him to ports around the world and sometime into brushes with the wars being fought by the newly founded United States. In his duties as a navigator, he discovers that many of the references available contain dangerous errors, and he is compelled to compile a new book of navigational data. His experiences educating crew members serving under him allow Nat to supplement his numeric tables with information that allow sailors with limited educations to learn the trade of navigation. Eventually Nat becomes a captain and faces his greatest navigational challenge of all.

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