NOBA medal Winner, 2010 National Outdoor Book Award, Children's category.
The award honors outstanding writing and publishing in the outdoor field.

John Burroughs Association Seal
2010 John Burroughs Association Outstanding Nature Book for Young Readers

Winner, 2010 Honor Book Award from the Society of School Librarians International (SSLI), Social Studies—Grades 7-12 category.

Bank Street College, Best Children's Books of the Year, 2011 Edition. Special Interests. Scroll down to Biography.

Finalist, 2011 Crystal Kite Member Choice Award, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, New England Region. 

Listed on Best Books for Teen Boys, 2011, for the New Hampshire School Library Media Association.

Featured in the 2011 Kansas National Education Association Reading Circle Catalog.

Recommended Book, National Science Teachers Association. The stages of his life are vividly portrayed, beginning in early childhood…. After nearly 50 years as an explorer, a teacher, a researcher, and a humanitarian, his contributions are unmatched. … treacherous and dangerous journeys in below-freezing temperatures, months of darkness, isolation, wind and snow are cleverly described with realistic photographs. Picturesque scenarios of day-to-day activities are presented throughout. … This fascinating story should be enjoyed by young students seeking a written adventure. … facilitators will be able to develop interdisciplinary lessons in geography, anthropology, and ecology.  -- Jean Worsley, Retired Biology Teacher, June 2010. Read the full review.
Featured Book Review: Science Books & Films. (American Association for the Advancement of Science). This thrilling biography of an endearing and enduring iconic arctic explorer should appeal to young people and adults alike. The copious archival photos of trips … illustrate the text so well that the reader might feel that he or she were reliving the expeditions…. Captain Mac is both an American hero and an American humanitarian. We need more stories like this one. Thanks, Mary Morton Cowan, for researching and telling it so well. -- Michael T. Stieber, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL, July 2010.
The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum & Arctic Studies Center: The book is a wonderful addition to literature on Arctic exploration. -- Susan A. Kaplan, Director
Booklist Online: Based largely on interviews and primary sources, this profile authoritatively retraces the career of a dedicated Arctic explorer. MacMillan's career opened with a high spot, accompanying Robert Peary on the renowned polar expedition of 1908–09, and continued with regular scientific and exploratory voyages, overland journeys, and flights until 1957. “Captain Mac” left a huge archive of museum specimens, films, and photos—selections drawn from the latter appear on nearly every spread here. …the severe hardships and wild beauties of the Arctic come through as strongly as her case for the significance of his achievements. Extensive back matter concludes. Grades 6-9. -- John Peters. May 2010.
Horn Book Guide: Cowan chronicles the life of MacMillan from his boyhood in New England to his last Arctic voyage in the 1950’s. MacMillan’s major expeditions and scientific studies are vividly described. The author’s use of her subject’s journals, letters, and books adds detail and authenticity. MacMillan’s own photographs enhance this well documented, sophisticated text. Spring 2010.
School Library Journal: [Grades 5-9] …covers the life and achievements of the Arctic explorer. MacMillan...joined Robert Peary's 1908 expedition to the North Pole. This was followed by other scientific explorations into the Arctic's vast unknown regions, some by airplane, where Captain Mac filmed and photographed wildlife.… Archival photos with explanatory captions appear on nearly every page. The author skillfully weaves primary-source quotes with short, action-oriented sentences (e.g., 'Mac was lucky to escape alive!'). …This engaging biography is also a solid overview of an era of exploration that still captivates adventurous youths. -- Amy Pickett, Ridley High School, Folsom, PA, July 2010.
Barnes & Noble: Donald MacMillan (1874—1970) is not as well known as Robert Peary or Richard Byrd, but he was an intrepid Arctic explorer. … His Arctic adventures included exploration, scientific research, lecturing, teaching, and sailing. …. Cowan's biography conveys the lure of the North and the excitement and perils of exploration, illustrated by a wealth of photos. … His unique story vividly recreates for all readers an awesome world that has now largely disappeared. -- Barbara L. Talcroft, Children's Literature, July 2010.
Kennebec Journal, Augusta, Maine: CAPTAIN MAC is Mary Morton Cowan’s wonderful biography of Adm. Donald B. MacMillan … it is a smartly written history of Arctic exploration, written with a grown-up flavor featuring plenty of exciting Arctic adventures, plus history, science, geology, meteorology, wildlife, and the debilitating effect of cold weather, poor diet and prolonged isolation on humans. …
    Cowan … has done a masterful job researching this subject, successfully combining crisp narrative with anecdotal stories, all supplemented nicely with period photographs, maps and illustrations. … This is terrific history well told, and adult readers will enjoy it as much as young readers. -- Bill Bushnell, July 11, 2010.
The Times Record, Brunswick, Maine: [expanded from the above review in the Kennebec Journal]
…a well-researched, richly detailed biography… In addition to MacMillan’s gripping story, Cowan tells of the scandalous controversy over who really discovered the North Pole. Was it Peary in 1909 or Frederick Cook a year earlier? … Cowan also tells wonderful anecdotes about MacMillan and his Arctic journeys. -- Bill Bushnell, August 6, 2010. Author Mary Morton Cowan visits the life of veteran Arctic explorer, anthropologist, scientist, and Naval officer Donald Baxter MacMillan in this fast-paced biography that would be ideal for either school reports or pleasure reading. …
Born in 1874, MacMillan…was especially fascinated with tales told by sailors he met of the wonders of the massive icebergs in the Arctic, and the quest to find the North Pole.… 
    By chance MacMillan meets Robert Peary, the famous Arctic explorer, and…a few years later…was invited to join Peary's team. This was the first of more than twenty-five expeditions…to the Arctic—eighteen of these as captain of his own custom-built ship, Bowdoin…. Among his many accomplishments was pioneering the use of radio and aircraft in the Arctic, as well as writing a dictionary of the native language and contributing greatly to the cultural understanding of the native people of the area.…
    This well-researched and handsomely illustrated biography relies extensively on primary sources, including MacMillan's many journals, books, writings, and personal photographs. The author keeps the narrative exciting by including lots of fascinating anecdotes…. The book features numerous appendices, among them…additional resources for young people on Arctic exploration. -- Margo Tanenbaum, October 2010.  Read the complete review. “This is an engaging biography of a lesser known Arctic explorer and is sure to become a welcome addition to any collection about those intrepid explorers. … Liberally sprinkled with black and white photos, this beautifully designed book packs a punch and is sure to capture the imagination of some budding explorers.” Reviewed October 2010.  For the complete review, click here.
Eagle Island Journal. Friends of Peary’s Eagle Island. "Maine author Mary Morton Cowan…uses a familiar, story-telling style…to relate the adventures and contributions of MacMillan….
    "Using many of MacMillan’s own photographs to complement her simple sentences in rapid, staccato succession, Cowan captures MacMillan’s early fascination with sailing and with the tales of exploration in the far North. …
Cowan, with her gift for story- telling, goes on to portray MacMillan as a physically athletic, intellectually curious, culturally sensitive and politically astute individual who committed his years after the Pole expedition to continued research in the far north. …
    "Cowan has recounted a life full of adventure and commitment- a commitment to research and exploration for the common good." Reviewed by Steve Ingram, Fall 2010.
Read the complete review.
     Donald Baxter MacMillan, known affectionately as Captain Mac, spent almost fifty years exploring the Arctic. … Traveling hundreds of miles by dog sled across the ice, he braved hunger, hypothermia, and charging polar bears and walruses. He formed strong friendships with Inuit hunters and their families and even, briefly, adopted a polar bear cub.Donald Baxter MacMillan, known affectionately as Captain Mac, spent almost fifty years exploring the Arctic. … Traveling hundreds of miles by dog sled across the ice, he braved hunger, hypothermia, and charging polar bears and walruses. He formed strong friendships with Inuit hunters and their families and even, briefly, adopted a polar bear cub.
     In Captain Mac, Mary Morton Cowan captures both the high adventure of MacMillan’s life and his cheerful, resilient character. … Orphaned at young age, the sea captain’s son worked his way through college, never daring to hope he might one day attain his dream of exploring the Arctic. A chance meeting with polar explorer Robert Peary led to his first expedition. …
[Cowan’s] account of MacMillan’s adventures, coupled with the explorers’ own photos, bring the Arctic to life. Reviewed by Dorothy A. Dahm, November 9, 2010.   Read the complete review: “The Top of the World.” 
Books for Boys.  Dreaming of setting off into the unknown? Of braving the elements and the great open wilderness? So did Donald MacMillan, and his travels into the heart of the arctic did as much to open up this last frontier as his more famous friends and colleagues Robert Peary and Matthew Hanson. From an orphan boy in Maine to the first expedition to reach the North Pole, this is the survival story of one of the men to conquer the arctic. Reviewed by Michael Sullivan, Spring 2011.
Library Media Connection: "Intrigued by the sea from his earliest years, Mac couldn't resist the lure of adventure. Even though his father was lost while at sea, he still dreamed of exploring the Arctic. Captain Donald Baxter MacMillan not only assisted famed Arctic explorers Peary, Henson, and Byrd, but he explored, researched, and documented his findings of the Arctic for over fifty years. His beloved schooner, the Bowdoin, served him and then was asked to serve America during World War II. Even though the Bowdoin served her country well, she was left in a bone yard after the war. Mac bought her back and rebuilt her to her original state, and proudly sailed her back to the Arctic. Cowan explains how the explorers, the Inughuit people, the dogs, the ships, and the knowledge gained from previous attempts made the discovery of the North Pole possible. The book includes numerous historical pictures. It is a good read for reluctant male readers." Recommended. Sue Stidham, Associate Professor, Library Media Program, Pittsburg (Kansas) State University.
Barnes & Noble, Five-star Customer review:
***** Take a trip to the Arctic on the Bowdoin. Mary Morton Cowan's biography of Captain Donald Macmillan is an absorbing tale of adventure and character. Cowan, whose grandfather was a friend of Mac (stated in the author's note), provides such vivid descriptions that you feel like you are sledging alongside Captain Mac as he explores the Arctic. The plentiful photos add to the experience - the icebergs, the dog teams, the fellow explorers, and, of course, Macmillan's schooner, the Bowdoin. If you want a thrilling ride with a man dedicated to exploration and science, read Captain Mac! Reviewed by H.W. Wolf, April 3, 2010.
Joan Broerman's Book Log:  Author Mary Morton Cowan combed notebooks, diaries, and ship’s logs to craft this fully researched text that reads like a novel. She takes the reader out to sea with Captain Mac to endure homesickness, cold, isolation, and darkness for months at a time. … Excellent maps and photos are well-placed….
     Bowdoin College figures prominently in Captain Mac’s life. … His schooner, which he captained for 18 expeditions, was named the Bowdoin. …
     There is so much more to know about Captain Mac. His sense of fairness. His sense of humor. Cowan lightens dark moments with anecdotes about the man himself. …
     Author Cowan weaves a tantalizing tale. Readers ten and up and their parents will find this information packed adventure story accessible and enjoyable. September 5, 2011. Read the full review.
Recommended Biography, Arlington Independent School District, Arlington, TX. Based mostly upon MacMillan’s primary sources, the author introduces students to a very unique Arctic explorer. With descriptive detail and photographs, MacMillan’s life will make the adventurous student dream of one day making his/her own dreams come true. Elements of danger threatened the very survival of MacMillan and his crew, and some did not survive. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from either the ship’s log or a diary and is enhanced by black/white photographs from those taken of/or by MacMillan and his crews. Several appendices of notes, timelines, etc. Indexed.
Bowdoin College: Bowdoin Magazine, "Bookshelf." Based on extensive interviews and primary sources, this authoritative profile retraces the career of dedicated Arctic explorer, Donald MacMillan.... Winter 2011. Read the complete review.
Christina’s Reviews:  Interesting look at an Arctic explorer’s life. I hadn’t ever heard of him before, and it turns out he was pretty important in the history of Arctic exploration. December 2011.
Several Customer Reviews on, including this one: "CAPTAIN MAC reads like fiction, so fascinating. But all the more amazing because it's TRUE! Wow, what a life MacMillan lived. The author's research was impressive. His story would make a great read-aloud for Gr. 3-5, but it would also appeal to middle school up to adult readers." Lynn Plourde, Maine author, June 2010.
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