Review Blog

Apr 01 2015

This is Captain Cook by Tania McCartney

cover image

Ill. by Christina Booth. NLA Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9780642278692
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Historical, School, Adventure, School play. Miss Batts' class puts on a play, with all the classmates taking part in the presentation of his adventures around the world. It begins with James Cook being born and raised on a farm where he was surrounded with small animals before going to a seaport where he worked in a shop. He loved the sea and eventually was taken aboard a ship and later he became a sailor with the Royal Navy. He equitted himself so well, that he was promoted and given tasks to do by the British Government.
All of this is simply played out by the students taking banners across the stage, or chickens or small rowing boats, showing what part each of these had in James' life. Readers will laugh out loud at the antics played by some class members, and the small disturbances amongst the audience which of course consists of many family members.
The charming illustrations reveal the flourishes of a class production with wheels on the bottom of the ship, paper hats for the Captain, seagulls hanging from the ceiling, children crying in the audience and a pesky chicken which wants to be on stage. All adds humour to this delightful story of Captain Cook for the younger reader.
Captain Cook then sailed south for Tahiti and his secret orders were to find the Great Southern Land. This he did planting a flag on what is now Australia, in New South Wales.
The story published by the National Library of Australia, showcases some of the archival material about Cook held in its collection in Canberra.
This is a great first read for younger children about one of the giants of Australia's history, and could well be used as an introduction to more work about him or looking at archival material kept in libraries, or as a model for acting out historical plays within the classroom, or to look at another giant and reduce the information down to its bare bones, as McCartney has done so well here.
Fran Knight

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