Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

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The story of a boy who has the perseverance to become a navigator of great sailing ships.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The 1956 Newbery Medal winner, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham, is a fictionalized biography of the great American navigator Nathaniel Bowditch, whose 1802 book, The American Practical Navigator, became known as the "Sailor's Bible." This edition features new jacket art and the original b&w interior illustrations by John O'Hara Cosgrave II. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Jean Lee Latham (1902-1995) won the 1956 Newbery Medal for her fictionalized biography of Nathaniel Bowditch. He, of course, was the Yankee from Salem, Massachusetts, who wrote The American Practical Navigator, better known as the "Sailor's Bible." A teacher and meticulous researcher, Latham's strength lay in her ability to subtly pad her narratives with telling information and incidents which brought alive each of the periods she tackled for her many books. In Bowditch the young Nat grows up poor in a post-American Revolution world rife with currency inflation problems. His nine years as an indentured apprentice for a chandlery are peppered with understandable explanations of the nautical terms that—along with his insatiable appetite for mathematics—eventually lead to his navigational discoveries. Lathem's writing style has the slightly innocent tone of an earlier age, yet Nathaniel Bowditch still comes alive in her pages. This reprint holds up remarkably well, and readers will have the added pleasure of John O'Hara Cosgrave II's original illustrations. 2003 (orig. 1955), Houghton Mifflin,
— Kathleen Karr
From the Publisher
"Illustrations, rich in detail, by John O'Hara Cosgrave II add authenticity and value." School Library Journal, Starred
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812428254
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/28/2003
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 697,619
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Lee Latham was born in 1902 in Buckhannon, West Virginia. At an early age, she became a prolific writer, penning works of fiction and nonfiction, as well as theater scripts. Ever since its debut, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch has acquired an intrigued group of sea-loving fans.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012

    Read it!

    Read this book for Battle of the Books in 6th grade and 27 years later it still captivates my attention.

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  • Posted October 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Carry On, Mr. Bowditch Review by: David S.

    Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham is a narrative primarily about a young boy named Nathaniel Bowditch. Nathaniel grew up in the town of Salem and has an exceptional knack for math. As a child he was indentured to Ropes and Hodges Ship Chandlery for nine years where he becomes an excellent book keeper. He learns heaps of new things duryin his indenture including: learning to speak French and Latin, keeping detailed notebooks on subjects such as astronomy, and even writing his own almanac. He desires to go to Harvard but when his indenture is finally over he becomes a member of a ship and travels all over the world. On this ship he becomes the commander of a watch on deck and in his spare time studies and teaches the crew members useful math tricks. The book ends with Nat's fifth voyage which carries him into his early thirties.

    This book is an extreely easy read. The characters are relatively simple and the plot easy to follow. It is written in a fairly large font and frequently has pictures that take up a half to two full pages. My favorite character from the book is a little girl named Elizabeth who sheds some light, figuratively speaking, on Nathaniel Bowditch which changes the way he handles situations with other people for the rest of his life. I would reccommend this book to anybody who desires a quick, easy, and pleasurable read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2010

    An adventurous, seafaring novel!

    Nathaniel Bowditch has moved to Salem, Massachusetts, finished his indenture, and is now going out to sea. What will he do there? What will he do with his time home? He will do many things in his adventure. The book goes into great detail about what happens; it also gives an excellent description about the characters and places. These are some of the reasons I like this book and think it is excellent. Don't forget to read it!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2007

    nothing but the best

    I loved this book. My brother read this book a few years back then I had to read it for school, I loved it. I read it in a week. it was a fast even though I am the slowest reader. for you slow readers, this book is very quick.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2006

    What a GREAT Book !!!!

    I read this book as part of my homeschool program. I really enjoyed it and found myself reading it in every spare minute I had. I do not greatly enjoy history, but this is one of the best books I've ever read. Fantastic Book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2005

    An Action-Packed Adventure!

    I recently purchased this book, and it has become one of my immediate favorites! This book tells the truly wonderous story of Nathaniel Bowditch, a young man who, despite being physically small all his life, grows up to be one of the greatest navigators of his time! While reading this book, you will learn many extraordinary things about Bowditch's life, such as how he discovered a new way to take lunars (A procedure used to find the position of a ship), or how he found eight thousand mistakes in a navigation book that men's lives depended on. If you want a thrilling, yet factual, reading experience, then this is the book for you!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2004


    Its okay, I mean it gets so tiresom. Nathanial Bowditch and his navigation skills, not a very 'exciting' book. You could read better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2004

    I love this book

    This book captured my imagination when I was in elementary school so much so I wrote a book report on it three years in a row. Since then I have read it dozens of times and still enjoy it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2002


    It was a very confusing book and was kind of snoozy

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2002


    My librarian recommended this book to me because she knows I am a bookworm. It was amazing. I love to get caught up in books, and I could barely put this one down!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2001

    Awesome Book

    I Liked this book so much I read it 5 Times! And I still want to read it again!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2001

    A Great Book!

    It is an amazing book because I do not like reading books, but this book I wanted to read in my spare time and all the other books seemed boring. Nat Bowditch was a mathematician and a sailor. It is sad that most of his family died. He went on many ships and lasted through many storms.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2001

    Best Book Ever Written!!!

    A great book about a smart boy who does great thing

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2000

    COMB a great book

    I read this book for a school subject in the Total Language Plus program. My brother , my Dad, and I nicknamed it COMB, using the initials. COMB is a book that includes most of the details of Nat Bowditch's life. I was reluctant of reading this true story at first because I didn't like long books, but then I caught on because of the action and timeline . We liked this book because of the action and cool , neatly described characters . I think that people should read this good book that teaches lots of different subjects like math, navagating, and history. If you love pirate stories or non-violent action, this is the book for you!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2000

    Carry On Mr. Bowditch

    I really liked reading Carry on Mr. Bowditch. It taught me some ways of navigation, that math problems only have one answer, and some things that can happen on a sea voyage. I liked reading this book because it had adventure,and scary parts. I think others would like this book because I liked it and I don't even like reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2000

    Carry on, Mr. Bowditch Review

    Carry on, Mr. Bowditch seemed so much like a story and you felt like you were there. It didn't seem like a biography at all. I think it is a book everyone should read. This guy is so amazing, he's a genius, and very creative. I loved it. It's a must for all you people who love the seas, early American history, science, or just like to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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