In 1768 Captain Cook set about in the ship Endeavor for a secret mission, the first of his 3 historic journeys to chart new lands around the world, chart the stars, and discover new species of plants and wildlife. Joining the able crew was a small group of scientific gentlemen or "naturalists" and their servants, broken into various specialties such as botany, zoology, and astronomy. Little did the Captain know that a stowaway was on board - 11 year old Nicholas was running from a brutal apprenticeship into the only place he could think of, the adventure of the sea. Lucky for young Nick the Captain is not brutal like many others, but he does run a tight, disciplined ship. Nick is put to work, and he works hard. He receives valuable training in several areas in addition to sailor skills, he helps the ships medical officers, and the naturalists. Because Nick has a very curious mind and an eager nature, he is made a formal part of the crew and allowed to draw pay like any other seaman aboard. There is plenty of excitement with the ship's crew facing disease, storms, strange natives, and uncharted islands. A midshipman named Mr. Bootie decides it is his job to try to get Nick in trouble or be cruel to him, to the point that he is a danger to Nick's life.
We the reader join the story through Nick's eyes, as we are reading his journal. He makes an entry almost every day for the 2 years that they are at sea, and through his journal we also observe his growth into a sharp eyed young man that is very likable and gains the respect of his shipmates. It is a dramatized piece of history by the Newberry award winning writer. The author combed the actual records on the real life voyage of the Endeavor, in order to make the book as factual as possible. The nautical dialogue is accurate, but includes a glossary in the back to look up terms you do not understand. There is a list of the ships crew, and a map of the journey to follow as well. There are some illustration in the book, and the outer wrap-around cover of the book is very nice, and is based on a real seventeenth-century original.
One of the interesting impacts this book has on young people, is it leads them to want to learn more about history and they want to go to the library or other sources to learn more about Captain Cook's explorations. The book is suitable for readers age 10 and up, but any younger reader that wants to tackle it should by all means. As an adult that borrowed the book from my son for a plane trip, I too thoroughly enjoyed this interesting story. If your young reader enjoyed this, they may like to read "Carry on, Mr. Bowditch", or "The Dark Frigate".