Posts Tagged ‘Explorers’

Mrs Chippy the Cat

By Susan Brocker

Illustrated by Raymond McGrath

ISBN 9781775437086

Scholastic NZ

In 1914, Captain Ernest Shackleton led an expedition to Antarctica on the ship Endurance. Our very own New Zealander, Frank Worsley, was part of this famous exploration too. There was also another very special member on board; Mrs Chippy, the tomcat and his owner, Harry McNeish, the ship’s carpenter.

Mrs Chippy was useful as a good mouser, catching all the mice and rats. The crew came to love the cat and when it accidentally fell overboard one day, they rescued it from the icy, Antarctic waters. When the Endurance became stuck in the frozen ice, Mrs Chippy took turns keeping the crew cosy and warm at night time by curling up beside them. Cats are wonderful for keeping you warm on cold winter nights, so this must have been extra special for the crew, as they slept on the freezing ice floe in their flimsy tents.

Susan Brocker brings Mrs Chippy’s story to life, and Raymond McGrath adds to it with his more natural, retro-looking illustrations. There is a sense of ruggedness to the pictures which works well with the historical aspects of the story.

At the back of the book there is a page of historical notes with photos of the real Mrs Chippy, which adds a lovely bit extra to the story.

Cook’s Cook

The Cook who cooked for Captain Cook

By Gavin Bishop

ISBN 9781776572045

Gecko Press 

 

 

Gavin Bishop as author and illustrator of this new picture book brings us an extraordinary point of view of the 1768 journey of Captain James Cook on board the H.M.S  Endeavour. He shares the voyage through the eyes of John Thompson, the one-handed cook. What an amazing man he must have been to prepare and cook food for 94 people on board a ship that at times ran short of food and essentials and with only one hand.

Gavin shares some of the recipes the cook used and believe me, some of them are what I would consider, disgusting.  For example, Stingray soup and dog and breadfruit stew. Gross. So glad things have changed. 

Gavin has obviously done his research with this creative non-fiction picture book filled with important illustrations reflecting the times as they were. His end pages create a beginning and end of the journey starting with a cross-section of the ship. It is brimming with goods and supplies but still has to fit 94 people so we can only imagine how cramped it must have been.

We also see the trading and bartering of goods, which at times was certainly questionable in its fairness. We follow the lives of many passengers and in many cases, also their deaths. The story of John Thompson is one I had never heard of before which proves the point in history, and in life in general, there is always more than one side to any story. 

As Julia Marshall says, this book has everything: “culture, class, adventure, humour and much more”. And it does. It has something for everyone and will certainly make a perfect resource for school libraries and teachers at many levels.  There are some excellent teaching notes here to make the most of this book and generate further discussions. A great book also to add to any home library and reflect on the history of New Zealand.

Check out the video below with Gavin talking about his latest book.