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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Cook's Cook follows the 1768 journey of James Cook's H.M.S. Endeavour with his ship's cook, the one-handed John Thompson, as story teller. Through real recipes from the ship's galley, events on board and the places the ship traveled 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 book is full of information drawn from extensive research alongside evocative illustrations, released to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the Endeavour's journey.…

Overall Book Review:

Cook’s Cook is the story, written in a style somewhere between journal and memoir, of John Thompson, who was the cook on the Endeavor during Captain Cook’s voyage of exploration. Since the story is told from the cook’s point of view, what is included in the narrative has a different perspective than usual, with a focus on the edible plant and animal life and resources at stops along the journey. The author’s writing imparts facts about life at sea, the historical points of the journey, and a few details about the people who made up the crew.

The illustrations that accompany the story of this book are colorful and at some points comical. They serve to illuminate what is in the text, and children who read the book will likely find them a welcome addition.

The publisher’s note of this book says that it includes actual recipes from the ship’s galley, which led me to assume that it would provide some recipes that could be prepared, possibly with children, to further bring the details of life at sea to life. However, many of the recipes include exotic meats that an average kitchen will not have (and in many cases cannot possibly get), and even the ones that have common ingredients do not include any measurements. It was disappointing that the recipes cannot be actually made, but they do serve the alternate purpose of showing young readers what sort of things adventurous seafarers were forced to eat at times.

This book has some fun facts about sea travel in history, and it provides an introduction to the voyages of Captain Cook. It is a short read and is full of illustrations, which should appeal to younger audiences.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Gecko Press Ltd.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: None.  Note:  One English use of the word “bleeding” (not tallied).

Violence/Gore:  Characters are tied up and dunked in the sea (without harm); report of two characters who die of exposure; crew members eat dog, and a recipe that includes dog meat is detailed, which may disturb readers who live where dog is a pet and not a meat; report of characters discovering human body parts; natives are cannibals, and the term “long pork” is used to describe human meat; several characters die from disease.

In addition, the book has a few cartoonish, non-graphic, pictures that include blood. These include: characters being whipped as punishment; a few pictures of characters butchering animals for cooking.

 Sex/Nudity:  A young native child in one picture may be naked, but it is a rough sketch and hard to tell. (Not tallied.)

Mature Subject Matter:

Cannibalism; superstition (characters believe in ghosts); slavery (mention).

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Wine and beer are on the list of items in the ship’s kitchen; characters smoke and chew tobacco; characters drink wine, beer, and liquor.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My taste in literature leans heavily towards sci-fi, fantasy, and (my favorite) horror, and the latter can present some fairly murky waters for parents to let their children explore. I enjoy novels of both the standard and graphic varieties. Since those genres, and graphic novels in particular, tend to appeal to boys, I hope that I can help other Boy Mommies in their quest to find books that their little video gamers--I mean, future bibliophiles will read and enjoy. When I am not reading, I enjoy tabletop role-playing games, video games, and singing karaoke. I have a wonderful husband who lets me indulge my reading habit by sharing the housework and being a great dad to our genius kids and their faithful hound.