Cook's Cook: The Cook Who Cooked for Captain Cook

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Product Details

Gecko Press
Publish Date
11.8 X 0.5 X 9.8 inches | 1.15 pounds
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About the Author

Gavin Bishop, ONZM, Tainui, Ngāti Awa, is a leading Māori illustrator living in Christchurch, New Zealand. He has published over 70 books internationally and been translated into 12 languages. His awards include the Sir Kingi Ihaka award for lifetime contribution to Māori art and culture.


"With one arm and a hook, John Thompson cooked for the seamen of Lt. James Cook's scientific expedition to the South Seas from 1768 to 1771.

New Zealand author/illustrator Bishop offers a crew's-eye view of an early 'round-the-world voyage that sailed from Plymouth, England, across the Atlantic to South America, rounded Cape Horn, circumnavigated New Zealand, and sailed along the coasts of New Holland (Australia), Java, and West Africa before returning to England three years later. The information begins with a front-endpaper cross-section of the overcrowded HMS Endeavour and continues chronologically, as much in the blue-green--and--sepia-toned spreads as in the journallike text. Speech bubbles contain comments from the cook; on torn-parchment insets readers find printed recipes including 'seared shark steaks, ' 'dog and breadfruit stew, ' 'poor knights pudding, ' and the ubiquitous pease porridge. The watercolor-and-acrylic-ink images show the provisions, the sailors at work, the scientists and their servants (including at least one freed slave), scenery, wildlife, and a culminating map of the voyage. Two black servants represent the only people of color depicted aboard the Endeavour; the rest of the crew, including Thompson, present white. Only 56 of the 94 people onboard returned to England; Thompson himself dies before they reach South Africa and follows the rest of the journey as a sea gull--or so the crew believed. No sources are supplied, and libraries beware: The cover flaps obscure interesting facts.

Appealing illustrations and the lure of an insider's account make this a delectable adventure."--Kirkus--Journal

"In summer of 1768, the HMS Endeavor sails out of England with a crew of men aboard and Captain James Cook in command. As they make for the South Pacific, one-handed ship's cook John Thompson narrates, examining the voyage through the food he prepares for the crew. As they travel south from Brazil toward Patagonia, the men catch several albatross, which Thompson serves with prune sauce and ginger. In April, when they reach Tahiti, he whips up a dog and breadfruit stew. By the time they reach the Great Barrier Reef, in the summer of 1770, he's experimenting with turtle soup. Alas, this is an ill-fated journey; most of the crew, including Thompson, succumb to disease ('I now use a very small pot for the pease porridge'). As legend has it, the souls of the men who died turn to seabirds, accompanying the remaining men home. Striking woodcut-style illustrations provide a glimpse into the ups and downs of seafaring life, and Thompson himself offers wry dialogue asides. A unique take on a historical voyage."--Booklist