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Book Detail

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch Author Jean Latham
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
ISBN 9780618250745
Publication Year 2003
Reading Level 4.1
Main Character Age 0
Main Character is Human
Summary (Publisher"s Summary)
This fictionalized biography tells the story of the mathematician and astronomer who realized his childhood desire to become a ship's captain.

Subject Matter Summaries

Summary Details For Positive Elements:

Nat is indentured to a ship chandlery for nine years when he is 12 years old. Many people are kind to him and help him continue his education. Nat is hungry to learn and is an excellent mathematician. He teaches himself Latin so he can read a book on navigation. Then he teaches himself Spanish and French. He devotes his life to correcting all the errors in the navigation book because he wants to help save the lives of sailors. On voyages, he teaches the men before the mast how to navigate so they can advance their positions on the ship. He invents a new way to find longitude and latitude by measuring by the moon. He writes New American Practical Navigator and is eventually awarded an honorary degree from Harvard. p.48 Sam Smith tells Nat that when a man is becalmed, he must "sail by ash breeze," meaning that he must row; "get ahead by your own get-up-and-get." Sam encourages Nat and tells him everything he knows about the chandlery and sailing. p.75 Dr. Prince arranges for Nat to be able to read books from the Salem Philosophical Library without having to pay the usual membership fee.

Summary Details For Mature Subject Matter:

DEATH p.24 Nat finds out that a man he knew was killed in a battle at sea. p.37 Nat's mother dies just before Christmas. Not quite two years later, his grandmother dies. p.76 Lizza, Nat's sister, dies after falling down some stairs. p.84 Captain Boardman, father of Nat's friend Elizabeth, dies in the West Indies. p.92 Nat's brother, Sammy, dies of fever in the West Indies. p.122 Nat's brother-in-law dies of fever while away on a voyage. p.182 While on a voyage, the captain of another ship from Salem notifies Nat that his wife has died. p.207 Nat hears that two of his brothers have been lost at sea. CRISIS p.40-51 Nat's father lost his ship and now tries to support his family by making barrels. Nat loves school and wants to go to Harvard someday, but when he is 12, he is indentured to a ship chandlery for nine years. He won't be able to leave the chandlery without permission until he is 21.

Summary Details For Profanity/Language:

DEGRADING COMMENTS dumb p.82, 142 fool, foolish p.97, 120, 130x2, 131, and 14 other times MILD OBSCENITIES The devil p.116

Summary Details For Sexual Content:

ROMANCE p.70 Nat's sister, Lizza, tells him that David Martin wants to marry their sister, Mary. Mary won't marry him because he's a sailor. Nat talks to Mary and tells her he will tell David to stop bothering her, and will get David interested in another girl. So Mary marries David. p.128 Before Nat leaves on a voyage, Elizabeth kisses him. He thinks about her while he is away and realizes he is in love with her. p.164-168 When Nat gets back another man appears to be courting Elizabeth. At a husking party, Nat gets a red ear of corn and has to kiss Elizabeth. He tells her he loves her. They go to her mother and tell her. They are soon married. p.212 After Elizabeth dies, Nat falls in love with Polly, Elizabeth's cousin, and marries her.

Summary Details For Violence/Illegal Activity:

MILD VIOLENCE p.248 While sailing through a fog, one of the crewmen, Corey, is panicking the other men. Nat, the captain, suggests that it would be a kindness if Corey could sleep. "In the darkness a fist thudded; a body hit the deck; a slurring scrape said someone was dragging the sleeping Corey forward." NON-LIFE THREATENING INJURY p.228 Lem has fallen off his roof and broken his leg. VIOLENCE p.224 Lem is talking to Nat and Polly, hinting at the violence of the Sumatran natives, but trying to be discreet so Polly won't worry. He briefly describes Malay daggers and how the men swarm up the ships' cables to overwhelm the crew.

Summary Details For Tobacco/Alcohol/Drugs:

ALCOHOL p.34 Nat's father is not at home. His mother says he feels badly about taking Nat out of school. Granny says, "Rum won't help. If he put more rum in barrels and less in…"

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Summary Details For Disrespectful/Anti-Social Elements:

There are no disrespectful or anti-social elements in the book.