'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Review: Cook's Cook

The cook who cooked for Captain Cook is the major character in this divine and lavishly illustrated picture book. Attention to minute detail is given to the artwork created with watercolour and acrylic ink on paper.

Approaching Cook’s life from a different angle, with the subject of food as the central focus (recipes included), the little-known, one-armed cook shares the happenings on the HMAS  Endeavour through his log entries, which are humorous and entertaining.


Thomas Matthews is the cook’s name.  It’s his business how he came to be one-armed and won’t share it with anyone. But he shares all the happenings, good and bad, and details experiences through a strong narrative.

We accompany Cook,  Matthews and the rest of the crew out of Plymouth, through the North Atlantic Ocean, the Equator, Rio De Janeiro and onward. We learn about the roles and responsibilities of all the men on the HMAS Endeavour and how they were executed, their feelings, behaviour and outcomes, with lots of amazing facts about the weather. Challenges, deaths, plant collecting on the journey, and animals encountered and eaten out of necessity when food supplies were dwindling, make interesting reading; eating shark steaks and Polynesian dog was often the only option available.

This brilliant piece of researched work is made up of multiple stories that connect various people and places. It strings tales together with ease and flow.

New Zealand author and illustrator Gavin Bishop has created over 60 books since 1979. This riveting offering is his latest work and is equally absorbing visually as it is textually. This is a standout publication, and a valuable resource for schools, libraries and of course, bookshelves at home.  

Title: Cook’s Cook
Author / Illustrator: Gavin Bishop
Publisher: Gecko Press, $27.99
Publication Date: February 2019
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781776572045
For ages: 8+
Type: Non Fiction Picture Book



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