Publishers Weekly Review
Dash (We Shall Not Be Moved) pens an engrossing tale of the scientific contest for the Longitude Prize, which was offered through a 1714 act of the British Parliament in response to the devastating loss to the British navy of four battleships and hundreds of sailors. Opening with a gripping historical account of a shipwreck, the author sets up a compelling argument for the need to determine a vessel's position on the open sea. Without means for determining longitude, "English ships had been sailing everywhere in the Western world, relying on charts and maps that often had little relation to reality." The Parliament establishes the prize for "any device or invention for determining longitude" with a reward "roughly equal to $12 million today." (Even Isaac Newton competed.) Enter unlikely contender John Harrison, a carpenter and clockmaker, "a loner, plain-spoken, often tactless, with a temper he couldn't always control, and a genius for mechanics." Dash spotlights Harrison's biography as she navigates scientific and cultural history, describing the dynamics between officers and sailors. (She also mentions the role of Captain James Cook, of the Endeavour, in proving the worthiness of Harrison's inventionDCook figures prominently in Hesse's Stowaway, reviewed above). Petricic's caricaturelike drawings and the ragged-edge paper lend the volume a touch of class. Dash begins with more panache than she ends with, but keeps the suspense high throughout. Fans of science, history and invention and anyone who roots for the underdog will enjoy this prize of a story. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Booklist Review
Gr. 10^-12. Since ancient times, sailors have found their latitude with relative accuracy by measuring the position of the North Star or the Sun above the horizon. Longitude, however, remained a mystery, and countless disoriented ships sank until, in the eighteenth century, an English country clockmaker developed a series of instruments that used time to establish a ship's east-west position. In challenging language dense with technical and historical detail, this biography explains who John Harrison was, how he was able to develop his monumental inventions, and how his instruments ultimately succeeded and failed. Although the book is rewarding in terms of its thorough approach and fascinating subject, most young people will still have trouble getting through it. Technically minded teens (and adults) and readers with an interest in sailing will find it very compelling, however, and students looking for new subjects for reports will discover it to be an excellent resource on a topic seldom addressed in a book for youth. Charming ink drawings by Dusan Petricic illustrate. A glossary, an afterword, a time line, and a bibliography conclude. --Gillian Engberg