Kate Temple and Jol Temple (text), Jon Foye (illus.), Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers X Marks the Spot (Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers, #2), Allen & Unwin, 160 pp., 29 March 2017, $12.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781760291945
Captain Jimmy Cook is like no other kid you’ve met. He’s an intrepid explorer, archaeologist, and inventor as it turns out. He is a character that lets nothing stand in his way, and charges ahead in his excavations at school, organising his school friends to help him dig for dinosaur bones and then treasure, even – the girls. They, as it turns out, cheat him out of their complete capitulation to his demand that they give him all the treasure they find. It’s high-flying deal-making in the school yard, and it’s ruthless!
I think Jimmy is the kind of character readers will want to be – most importantly, he lets nothing stand in his way, and isn’t afraid to do things that are unconventional – like dig for treasure behind the toilet block. Whatever happens at the end of it, he embraces his individuality, instead of fitting into the mould at his school.
Another aspect of this book that was thoroughly enjoyable was the time and care given to building Jimmy’s relationship with his parents. He respects them, even if he may disobey them. Interestingly, his father loses his job in this book, and together he and Jimmy find themselves working on a school project, bonding over the success of it. It’s utterly charming, as is his mother when she mysteriously finds an answer to the letter in the bottle he let float out into the lake – that was of course, a question to the pirate who buried the treasure he’s looking for. For all that they are the adults in the book spoiling his fun, they’re loving him, helping him, and encouraging him in their own way.
This review would be incomplete without mentioning the absolutely brilliant illustrations in the book. Jon Foye’s illustrations are the kind that a kid like Jimmy would do, including hilarious captions. They capture Jimmy’s childlike innocence, and the kid in your life is going to appreciate seeing drawings that could very well be their own in the pages of this book.
Reviewed by Verushka Byrow