Now I know why everyone raves so about 1956 Newbery Medalist Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham. What an inspiring and engrossing story! Carry On, Mr. Bowditch is usually categorized as a children’s biography, but of course, I would assume it is a highly fictionalized account of Bowditch’s life. He was such a remarkable man, though, that the lines between reality and fiction are even murkier to those of us who read this book while firmly entrenched in the twenty-first century. Nathaniel Bowditch is known as the founder of modern maritime navigation. A self-taught man, he wrote a book entitled The New American Practical Navigator, determined to include nothing within the title that he couldn’t teach to the most common and unlearned sailor. Before then, navigation was a mystery to everyone but the navigator, and even he didn’t always use mathematics to chart his course. Of course, Bowditch’s own path to achievement was anything but smooth; he was indentured at age twelve to a ship chandler and came up through the ranks, all the while teaching him mathematics, physics, Latin, and whatever else he needed to know. I found this book suspenseful and touching, and I cried more than once while reading it aloud. (It isn’t unusual for me to cry while reading a book, but to cry more than once is. This is a good one!) I found his determination and willingness to work hard both refreshing and inspirational. Latham does an excellent job of driving home this point through a few well-turned phrases. I won’t share them here; they’re too good to offer as spoilers. It’s one of those books that parents hope will really impress their children. 😉 I think it did impress my girls: they were always eager to read just one more chapter. I won’t be a bit surprised if this one makes our read-aloud top picks list at the end of the year. I think I’ll pass this one on to Steady Eddie. Highly Recommended.