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Stowaway Paperback – 1 Jun 2002
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From the Inside Flap
8 hours 30 minutes, 6 cassettes
In 1767, 11-year-old Nicholas Young stowed away on Captain James Cook's "Endeavour." Cook's three-year mission was secret: he was charged by the British Navy to search for a lost continent, believed to be located between the southern tip of South America and New Zealand. Young's journal charts the voyage and with every port of call a new adventure awaits. This is the story of a great voyage of discovery seen through the eyes of a boy who was actually there.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
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.
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Only a few facts are known about the real Nicholas Young, who did stow away, aged 11, on Cook's voyage around the world between 1768-1771, was commissioned by Cook after the ship reached Tahiti, was bullied by a vindictive midshipman, assisted the Endeavour's surgeon and was the first person to spot New Zealand. Later, on growing up, he went on other journeys of exploration.
Some have commented that the book is surprisingly slow, but surely that is the point, sailing was very slow with very little happening between storms, masts toppling and sailors being lashed before the island-hopping expeditions begin. What is needless information to one reader is fascinating to another, especially for those approaching their teenage years who are the intended reading audience. Sufficient information, dates, latitudes and longitudes, and geographical names are included to enable the most responsive readers to follow and broaden the story on the internet.
On the run from his demanding father, a bullying schoolteacher, the Reverend Smythe, and the cruel butcher who employed him, Nick is first met hiding away with the animals on the Endeavour after having been helped onboard by some friendly crewmembers. He must stay hidden for months and moths, so as not to run the risk on being set ashore on his discovery. The reader shares his increasing discomfort. Like the real Nicholas, the boy can read and write and so keeps a journal and also teaches an illiterate crewmember, Samuel Evans, to read. When, at long last, he is able to read his name and then the days of the week the reader shares his delight.
Three years after setting out, he writes on seeing England again "We have truly led the way, charting the path for all who come after. I don't know I shall ever feel so again as I feel now. That any of us shall."
Each diary entry is short and if there is nothing particular to say Nick moves on to the next day. He is a great observer and thinker, and perhaps the first ethnographer, over half a century before Gerhard Friedrich Müller, `The people of this island are so different from the Natives of OTahiti. On OTahiti they were more eager to please. The people of Huahine are less timid and less curious about our things. They seem neither to need nor want what we have, but are content as they are. Where the natives of OTahiti once as there natives are now?'
Increasingly one realises how much the crew were dependent on the navigation and other skills of the crew, from the means to prevent scurvy, or ay lease keep it under control, to the proposal of fothering the ship after it had struck a reef, the greatest fear of all. Imagine if it, its crew and the thousands of drawings and species samples had been lost, although some of the latter were lost on Tuesday 26th June, 1770, when the ship was being repaired. It was interesting to know that drawings in the comics of my youth of natives with a bone through their nose does have a basis in fact.
After reaching Batavia safely, the crew suffer dysentery and more sailors have to be taken on to man the ship. As they voyage eastwards across the Pacific more and more of the crew die and it is like losing friends, even though some of their names are all that were mentioned in Nick's diaries.
Joseph Banks, the botanist and naturalist is, after Nick and Cook, the most interesting character and more approachable that the Captain. Banks and Nick travelled together to Iceland in 1772.
An Afterword is followed by a list of the Ship's Company, Ship's Itinerary, a chronology about South Pacific Discovery, 1520-1795-96, and extensive Glossary. There is also a Map showing the Endeavour's journey. After mention of Nick's/Nicholas' voyage to Iceland with Banks he disappears into the mists of time. As for the animals that Nick slept with right at the beginning of the story, just the one remained when the ship reached England again.
This is a very interesting book, although I am not a member of the intended audience. However, this is the kind of book that can stimulate a reader's interest and, indeed, encourage career decisions.
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