Both books are biographies of John Harrison (1693-1776), a very determined and persistent englishman that worked for over 40 years in designing and perfecting a clock (H1, H2, H3) and a watch (H4, H5) that would be able to keep accurate time at sea. This was very important in helping ships know their accurate position. By knowing the time at their home port, they could calculate the longitude.
The first one, our favourite, is "Sea Clocks: The Story of Longitude" by Louise Borden and illustrated by Erik Blegvad. You can read more about sea clocks here too.
"Most important, when John was a boy, he had a hunger for books and for learning, a hunger most other village folk didn't have. He learned to read and write from his father because in a river village like Barrow, there were no schools and few books."
The second one is "The Man Who Made Time Travel" by Kathryn Lasky and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. My children and I didn't enjoy the illustrations as much in this one, but the story was told in an interesting way, just like the book by Louise Borden. A few more details were added, such as the explanation of the different method people came up with to measure longitude at sea. The Time on Tiptoe Method and the one involving a dog's used bandages were quite different! Every one in that day must have been trying to come up with something in order to win the prize given by the British Parliament (equivalent to several millions of today's dollar!).
"After 147 days at sea, H4's error was only a minute and 54 seconds, a remarkable achievement for any clock in an era when even a timepiece on solid land might have errors of several minutes."
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