The Lost Voyage of John Cabot

Written by Henry Garfield
Review by Juliet Waldron

The two sons of John Cabot (born Giovanni Caboto, a real-life merchant of Venice) narrate. While Sebastian remains at home in Bristol and learns to be a river pilot, his brother Sancio voyages with his father to the New World. A superior geographer, John Cabot knew that Columbus had not reached the Indies by the southern route, so it is with this voyage that centuries of doomed searches for a northwest passage begin. A storm separates the three ships of Cabot’s expedition. One turns back. One is sunk. Although dismasted, the third, containing father and son, reaches the coast of North America. Sancio writes letters he hopes to someday present to Sebastian, telling of adventures along the coasts and among the natives of the strange new land. Through these lost letters we learn the eventual fate of Cabot’s expedition. Historical “what if…” for early teens with well-drawn characters, solid history, fascinating science, and minimal bowdlerizing. If only more young adult books were as well executed as this! (Ages 14+)