What may be the best New Zealand food history book of recent times.

Dionne Christian, New Zealand Herald

Cook’s Cook

Cook’s Cook follows the 1768 journey of James Cook’s H.M. Endeavour with his ship’s cook, the one-handed John Thompson, as story teller.

Gavin Bishop tells us about his work and his new book in the video here:

Best 50 Kids Books 2018, The Listener


  • Description

    Through real recipes from the ship’s mess, events on board and the places the ship travelled on its way to the Pacific, the book tells multiple stories.

    Here are stories of social class, hierarchy and race; stories of explorers and the people of the land; the story of one of the world’s most famous explorers told through a fresh new lens.

    This beautiful children’s book is full of information drawn from extensive research alongside evocative illustrations, released to coincide with the 250th anniversary of The Endeavour’s journey.

  • Book Details

    Country of Origin New Zealand
    Reader Age 5-7 year, 6-8 year, 8-12 year
    Book Size

  • Reviews

    1. BYU Children’s Book & Media Review

      Gavin Bishop’s colorful portrayal of this first voyage offers a subtle nod toward the notorious captain while recognizing the blood, sweat, and years given by the lesser known people who made the journey possible. The journey, portrayed mostly through the form of a ship’s log with notes and recipes scrawled between entries, lends a personal quality to the narrative. While Thompson’s observations boast the discovery of lands, plants, and people, it also reveals the grim living conditions aboard the ship and the negative impact the crew’s presence has on the natives they encounter. Such details are often left out of historical stories of discovery. The front and back matter include maps, diagrams, and definitions to help readers better understand the length of the journey, the cramped size of the ship, and the jargon of the crew. This additional information can help readers better contextualize the details of the historical voyage without disrupting the pace of the narrative. Stunning ink and watercolor illustrations wash over salty sea ports and sunny island cliffs with the most striking illustration along the back matter, representing the length and cost of the journey that Thompson explains in the end.

    2. 2018 Best Picture Books, New Zealand Herald

      Fascinating stuff recommended for foodies and picture book lovers alike.

    3. Best 50 Kids Books 2018, The Listener (NZ)

      The creator of last year’s blockbuster Aotearoa comes up with a tasty history lesson in his culinary take on Captain Cook, through the eyes of John Thompson, his one-handed cook.

    4. NZ Book Council

      NZ Children’s Book Award winner Gavin Bishop illustrates this story with muted colours, giving them a historic feel. They are strong images, showing emotions and adventure.

      This book tells many stories with subtle humour and surprising happenings. It is a wonderful adventure and I read it from cover to cover in one sitting. I would highly recommend this book to almost anyone.

    5. Magpies (AU)

      A unique angle; a generous format and top-quality production standard; salient and high-interest details; succinct text and appealing illustrations—all these factors combine to make Cook’s Cook an essential and highly recommended purchase.

    6. Booksellers (NZ)

      This is a short but surprisingly heavily -packed book. There may only be about 40-odd pages but everyone deserves a re-read, as there are many little jokes, facts or secrets hiding in the illustrations.

    7. Otago Daily Times (NZ)

      Gavin Bishop has served up another meticulously researched and beautifully realised book that hooked me from start to finish.

    8. The Sapling (NZ)

      This book is historically informative, artistically pleasing, culinarily diverse and, frankly, a pleasure to explore. Any teacher from Year 3 upwards will find more than enough teaching points to keep their students, and themselves happy, as this one-armed cook cooks for Cook!

    9. Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Johns Hopkins University Press

      Bishop’s rousing take on Thompson’s culinary exploits is liberally interlaced with attention to the ship’s overall mission. Ink and watercolor illustrations incorporate renderings of the action as well as vignettes, insets, and symbols that allude to concurrent views of the Endeavour’s adventures.

    10. San Fran Book Review (US)

      Author Gavin Bishop lets his research shine as he writes this interesting story. It is illustrated throughout in muted blues and browns, giving the look of an old ship’s journal. Youngsters from third to sixth grade will find this a wonderful way to learn some fascinating history.

    11. Simon Smith

      I just had to get this fantastic book. Just a fantastic non-fiction book. Details, facts and fantastic illustration. Great different perspective on Captain Cook’s voyage.

    12. Dionne Christian, New Zealand Herald

      What may be the best New Zealand food history book of recent times…It makes for a highly original and highly entertaining take on exploration, history and adventure and reminds us that Cook didn’t do it alone.

    13. Booklist (NZ)

      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.

    14. Children’s Books Ireland (UK)

      Bishop’s style captures much of the nuances of late eighteenth-century cartoon beautifully painted in sepia and blue watercolour schemes, skewed angle speech bubbles, along with recipes, facts and information in scrolled and rope frames.

    15. Lancashire Evening Post

      A feast of food, facts and history…Award-winning New Zealand illustrator Gavin Bishop sweeps young readers away to life on the ocean wave with famous explorer Captain James Cook in a fascinating, fact-packed picture book.

      Read more at: https://www.lep.co.uk/lifestyle/books/fantasy-worlds-famous-explorers-and-a-very-long-dog-1-9323650

    16. Kirkus Reviews (US)

      Appealing illustrations and the lure of an insider’s account make this a delectable adventure.

    17. Read it Daddy!

      This beautiful book is full of information drawn from extensive research alongside evocative illustrations, released to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the Endeavour’s journey.It really is something quite special and original, and if your children are similarly amazed by tales of the great explorers, this is absolutely essential.

Available worldwide from your local bookstore or online.

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