Jol & Kate Temple (text), Jon Foye (illus) Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers Third Grade, Allen & Unwin, May 2016 160pp., $12.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781760291938
Jimmy (James) Cook believes he is related to Captain Cook. At the very least, they both look good in a tricorn hat. It is history week in third grade and Jimmy decides to become an explorer and take over where his namesake left off. The best place to start is Hawaii. Captain Jimmy will dispel the rioting tribes, discover new lands and weird animals and recover his predecessor’s stuff. So how to get there? In Jimmy’s world anything is possible. He devises a plan and must overcome many challenges to realise his dream, not least defeating the evil mastermind, Alice Toolie.
Another funny, tongue-in-cheek offering from this creative trio, this time for a lower to middle year reader. This humorous tale is full of puns and wordplay, with Foye’s distinctive cartoons throughout. What works so well is that we see the world through the eyes of a very unreliable narrator. Jimmy’s preconceptions and misconceptions are hilarious. And so are his observations about the world. For instance, Jimmy believes he saves his baby sister from scurvy by feeding her an orange, that Hawaii will be exactly the same today as it was when Cook died. He thinks the HM Bark Endeavour is made of bark. He thinks that Cook would have listened to music on ‘seedees’ because that’s how old people did it. And according to Jimmy, his mother must think supermarkets are libraries because she reads every product she picks up (my favourite – I so do this!). Sprinkled throughout the text are references to well known products (re-labelled) – Wheat Blocks, mepad, YouTooTube and funny bogus sites such as weremyancestorscriminals.com.
An easy read, great for reluctant readers, this book could also work well as a serial read aloud. Stage Two students will relate to the topic and get a kick out of knowing more than the main character.
Reviewed by Sharon Seymour