Young Giovanni Caboto of Genoa cared for nothing but boats, but he was sent off to Venice to live with his uncle, a wealthy spice merchant. There, together with his new friend Michiele, he studied at the monastery and was especially fascinated by geography and exploration. When he got into trouble he was thrilled with his punishment: to sail with his uncle’s trading ships all over the Mediterranean. He learned practical aspects of sailing and trade and constantly kept on inquiring about old sea-faring explorers and their maps.
As Giovanni grew older, he became an official citizen of Venice, married, moved to Spain and then England, and finally was sent out by Henry VII to claim new lands for England and discover Asia, the fulfilment of a life-long dream.
From the salty tang of the seashore of Genoa to the foolish thrill of smuggling in Venice, from the bazaars of Constantinople to the excitement of looking for Cathay, this thrilling fictionalized biography will make John Cabot, his times, and his travels come alive for readers of all ages.
Documents on which the book was based are presented as historical notes in an appendix. As well, And Tomorrow the Stars is peppered with allusions to contemporary ideas, ancient geographers, and many historical facts, and thus would make an ideal basis for in-depth study of the late 15th century.
When I read this book aloud to my youngest girls, ages 11 and 13, we all loved it. However, I did need to skip some mildly suggestive sentences and some Italian misuse of the Lord’s name; obviously And Tomorrow the Stars was not meant to be a children’s book at all. However, written in 1968, it is appropriate for today’s older teens and many families would consider it suitable for younger ones as well. Second-hand copies are widely available.
More information about Cabot, including tantalizing recent discoveries of old documents, is available. For a summary of recent scholarly research and actual copies of the documents, see the Cabot Project on the University of Bristol website.
And Tomorrow the Stars by Kay Hill is one of the novels we use in our multi-year, literature-based Canadian History course.
Disclosure: We borrowed this book from our library and are not compensated for this review in any way.