When I was writing my novel Lost on the Prairie I wanted my main character Peter to be inspired by a literary hero. Peter who has been separated on his immigration journey from his parents needs a great deal of courage and determination as he tries to reunite with his family. I thought it would be great if he had a character in a book to look up to as a role model.
Captains Courageous was published in 1897. This is how the first edition looked.
My story takes place in 1907 so I needed to choose a book that had been written before that date and I wanted one where the main character was on a journey of some sort. After checking out several possibilities I settled on Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling and in my novel I had Peter’s older brother Herman read the book aloud to him and his younger brother Alvin.
In 1937 Captains Courageous was made into a movie starring Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore, Melvyn Douglas and a very young Mickey Rooney
The hero of Captains Courageous is a young boy named Harvey. He is from a very wealthy family and when he falls overboard on an ocean voyage some Portuguese fishermen rescue him. He must serve as a crewman on the fishing boat as it plies the Grand Banks of Newfoundland filling its hold with cod. Harvey makes friends with the ship captain’s son Dan and has all kinds of adventures at sea before he is reunited with his parents.
In my book, Peter refers back to incidents from the novel Captains Courageous many times. Like Harvey Peter almost drowns and is rescued by a man named Arden Little Thunder. Like Harvey, Peter makes good friends with Arden’s son Joe and has all kinds of adventures on the prairie just as Harvey did at sea. Like Harvey, Peter is separated from his parents and must draw on strengths he never knew he had to survive and return to his family.
I hope after finishing my book readers will be inspired to read Rudyard Kipling’s Captains Courageous if they haven’t already done so.
Of course, I have no idea if my grandfather Peter Schmidt who was the inspiration for the main character in my novel ever read Captains Courageous. My mother did tell me however that Grandpa loved to read and he subscribed to quite a number of newspapers and magazines which he read devotedly. I love this photo I have from my aunt that shows my grandfather reading in his home.
Other blog posts about my novel……..
My Novel’s Elevator Pitch
What an Inspiration
Thank You Mystery Editor
A Published Novel. Can You Believe It?
Reprehensible treatment of women! Cruelty to animals! Abuse of children! I am trying to find an adventure story for children that can inspire the twelve-year-old protagonist in the novel I am writing. Since the novel is set in 1907 I am looking for a book written before that date.
I started out with Gulliver’s Travels written in 1725 and was sailing merrily along having my main character identify with Gulliver when I discovered Jonathan Swift’s hero had treated women reprehensibly. Gulliver implies they aren’t as reasonable as men, are frivolous and lazy and use their sexuality to get men into trouble and is disgusted when he sees a woman breast-feeding. I had to nix Gulliver’s Travels.
Next I tried Swiss Family Robinson written in 1812 by Johann Wyss. Nice family, good values, resourceful after being shipwrecked and kind to one another. But wait! Not so kind to animals. They corral ostriches and ride them even though the birds are not built to hold the weight of a human. They slaughter a walrus to use its head as a prow ornament for their boat. Even though they have plenty of meat they continue to kill for sport. I had to nix Swiss Family Robinson.
Next I tried Captains’ Courageous written by Rudyard Kipling in 1897. Great story about a rich spoiled kid named Harvey who falls off a yacht only to be rescued by a fishing schooner. The fishermen aboard teach him all sorts of important life lessons. How heartwarming and perfect. But wait a minute. In the very first scene the captain of the ship hauls off and hits Harvey as a way to discipline him. He hits him hard enough to give him a bloody nose. I had to nix Captains Courageous.
Now I am wondering if there will be any novel written before 1907 that doesn’t have some offensive and politically incorrect content. Any suggestions?
Reading Aloud to Teens
They Remembered the Books
Why Adults Are Reading Teen Fiction