Friday, September 5, 2008

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

I'm still catching up on all the reading I should have done before I graduated from high school, let alone college! We have recently received a bunch of new books, some purchased one because of fond memories, some because they were highly recommended for historical studies.

One of the latter was the book, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham. It received the Newberry Award. I never realized that this book is about a real person. Okay, so mathematics was something I did, not something I thrived on doing. Nathaniel Bowditch was incredibly accomplished; he revolutionized the world of navigation. I believe this book is historical fiction, and an excellent example of it too!

One of my favorite parts is in the chapter titled Lunars and Moonlight. Mr. Derby, Captain Prince, and Nat Bowditch are discussing President Washington's address in his Eighth Annual Message to Congress when Mr. Derby reads some passages he had marked in his copy of the newspaper:

"To an active external Commerce, the protection of a Naval force is indispensable . . .
. . . it is in our experience that the most sincere Neutrality [to both England and France] is not a sufficient guard against the depredations of Nations at War. To secure respect to a Neutral Flag, requires a Naval force, organized, and ready to vindicate it from insult or aggression. This may even prevent the necessity of going to War."
This passage jumped out at me because it is such wise counsel, even for our times.

I'm excited to introduce my kids to this book. I think we'll start it as a read aloud. Hopefully the kids will snatch it while I'm not looking! The one thing I noticed is that it is worth graphing the characters as you read it. I got a little lost on who was who. I'll lay it out as I read it to my kids. I think a strength of it is that it incites the reader to study more and learn more on a wider variety of subjects. Nat Bowditch used his time wisely and learned all he could so he was ready when opportunities came. Wonderful counsel for anyone who is a student, no matter what the age.

Another book I just finished was Watch for a Tall White Sail, by Margaret E. Bell. It takes place in Alaska in the late 1800s. It is a wonderful romantic fictional tale and one I loved as a teen. However, I don't think I'll read it to my boys. They might surprise me and enjoy it, but I think we have other books that they'll enjoy more! :-) I still love romantic novels with no foul language, no profane use of of the Lord's name, just boy meets girl set in adventure. The way romances should be. One day my daughter will enjoy it too.

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