"For hundreds of years ships had been sailing to places far and near without really knowing where they were!"
Sailors knew how to measure latitude, their location north or south of the equator, but they could not measure longitude, their location east or west of their home port. Because of this, many lives were lost worldwide. The key to solving this problem lay in devising a clock that could keep absolutely accurate time while at sea, unaltered by rough water or weather conditions. With such a timekeeper sailors would be able to know the time back at their home port and calculate the longitude. But no one knew how to design such a clock.
John Harrison (1693-1776), an Englishman without any scientific training, worked tirelessly for more than forty years to create a perfect clock. The solution to this problem was so important that an award of 20,000 pounds sterling (equal to several million dollars today) was established by the English Parliament in 1714. Harrison won recognition for his work in 1773.
Together with beautifully detailed pictures by Erik Blegvad, Louise Borden's text takes the reader through the drama, disappointments, and successes that filled Harrison's quest to invent the perfect sea clock.
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Louise Borden graduated from Denison University with a degree in history. She taught first graders and preschoolers and later was a part-owner of a bookstore in Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition to writing children’s books, she also speaks regularly to young students about the writing process. Her books include Good Luck, Mrs. K!, which won the Christopher Medal, and The A+ Custodian. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and you can visit her at LouiseBorden.com.
Erik Blegvad was born in Denmark and studied at the School of Applied Arts in Copenhagen. Mr. Blegvad has illustrated more than one hundred children's books, including Twelve Tales by Hans Christian Andersen, Riddle Road by Elizabeth Spires, Hurry, Hurry, Mary Dear! by N. M. Bodecker, and Sea Clocks: The Story of Longitude by Louise Borden. The Blegvads divide their time between England, France, and Wardsboro, Vermont.
Grade 3-5-This handsome, well-researched picture book introduces John Harrison, the 18th-century English carpenter turned clockmaker who spent more than 40 years perfecting a device that solved the centuries-old problem of determining longitude. Beginning with Harrison's childhood, Borden presents biographical tidbits that bring the man to life, show how he differed from "most other village folk," and set the scene for his later accomplishments. With no formal training in clock making, he followed his instincts and used trial and error to build innovative timepieces. The narrative next describes the difficulties involved in determining east/west positioning at sea, explaining that captains could calculate longitude if they had an accurate shipboard timekeeper (a task impossible for 18th-century pendulum clocks). The prize offered by Parliament for a solution to the problem is also mentioned. The rest of the book details Harrison's dedication, perseverance, and ingenuity, as he struggled to build and perfect an accurate sea clock and fought to have his invention acknowledged by the Board of Longitude. The writing has a measured pace that helps readers to keep the details straight and the scientific concepts are clearly explained and smoothly incorporated into the text. Blegvad's precise illustrations create a strong sense of time and place. Alternating between black-and-white sketches and watercolor paintings, the pictures show Harrison hard at work, offer close-ups of his various inventions, and provide glimpses of his England. Taking a slightly different approach and providing more depth, this book makes a solid companion to Kathryn Lasky's The Man Who Made Time Travel (Farrar, 2003).
Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal
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Book Description National Maritime, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Louise Borden has explained the problem of longitude - and it's surprising solution - in children's terms. Thanks to this book, John Harrison and his miraculous timekeepers will now inspire the dreams of young readers. New paperback copy, may have some shelf wear, ready for immediate despatch. Bookseller Inventory # 014529
Book Description National Maritime Museum. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P111906367108