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Newbery winner Karen Hesse re-creates Cook's momentous voyage through the eyes of this remarkable boy, creating a fictional journal filled with fierce hurricanes, warring natives, and disease, as Nick discovers new lands, incredible creatures, and lifelong friends.


Gr 5-9-Captain James Cook left England on the H.M.S. Endeavor in 1769 with a crew of 85 men including an 11-year-old stowaway named Nicholas Young. Historians believe the boy could read and write, and was probably smuggled aboard the ship. This was enough information for Karen Hesse (S&S, 2000) to chronicle a fictional account of this young butcher's apprentice who runs away from his abusive employer to adventure in the uncharted waters of the South Pacific. Assisting the crew by scrubbing, polishing, shoveling and fetching, Nicholas becomes the ears and eyes of the voyage. British actor, David Cale, narrates the story presented as a journal. Each diary entry is prefaced by the date and location of the ship. Cale effectively enunciates each and every degree of longitude and latitude, reinforcing the painstaking attention to detail. Birds and fish are collected aboard the ship and sketched by Mr. Banks, a naturalist. Nicholas is awed by the beauty of Tahiti and contemplates staying there with his new friend, Tarheto. They witness cannibalism among the "New Zeland" natives, and trips ashore are fraught with wonder and wariness. The Endeavor limps home battered by storms and the crew plagued by scurvy, accidents, and death. Nicholas returns home a young man. The colloquialism and authenticity in the text is handled deftly by Cale, although the unfamiliar words and phrases will be better understood by students who read along with the story.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Sparkling with humor, poignancy and adventure, Newbery Medal-winner Hesse's (Out of the Dust) historical novel, told in diary form, was inspired by a real boy who stowed away aboard Captain James Cook's ship Endeavour on its 1768 voyage. The author bases the story on what little is known about 11-year-old Nicholas Young (he could read and write, for instance, and was made an official crew member in April 1769 when the ship reached Tahiti) and spins an imaginative tale firmly anchored in fact. The brief diary entries adhere to the ship's actual itinerary and detail Nick's adventures (and misadventures), among them his ongoing run-ins with a vindictive midshipman (also documented), the excitement and danger of rounding Cape Horn and the captain's disappointment in the view of Venus's transit across the sun (one of the main reasons for the voyage). Nick grows into young manhood irrevocably shaped by the three-year voyage, teaching an illiterate shipmate to read, befriending a Tahitian boy and witnessing cannibalism as well as a share of tragedy while helping to nurse a crew ravaged by accident and disease. His lively observations (on seasickness: "I can say now that Gentlemen heave the contents of their stomach same as eleven-year-old stowaways") keep the action sailing smoothly forward, while Hesse's impeccable research buttresses the narrative with a wealth of detail. A sprinkling of Parker's pen-and-ink illustrations adds an additional layer of texture, while an author's note and extensive glossary round out this compelling volume. Ages 10-14. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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