James Cook lived and breathed nearly 300 years ago. The world he grew up in was very different to ours. For a start, there were many fewer people. Today the population of England is more than 50 million but when James was alive it was only five million. Historians say that English society was divided into three classes: upper class, middle class and lower class. James Cook was born on 27 October, 1728. He was the son of a poor farm labourer and his wife who lived on a farm near the town of Great Ayton.
James Cook is well known in Australia for landing his ship Endeavour on the east coast of Australia in 1770. But before he did that, he journeyed a long way both literally and metaphorically. James was born into a poor family but with the assistance of his father’s boss and his own first boss, James was given an education and an opportunity to go to sea. He worked hard and progressed well and was in line for captaining his own merchant navy vessel. But to the surprise of some, in 1755, he joined the Royal Navy. There he quickly worked his way up and in the next years, married, fathered six children, learned surveying, participated in the Seven Year War, surveyed New Zealand and searched for the Great Southern Continent. James was a good captain, caring for his crew in a time when often the only way to get a crew was to pressgang them. In all he made three great voyages of discovery.
Captain Cook – Sailing Off the Map is a great title and conjures a image of an adventurer and explorer who refused to be limited to the known world. This is particularly relevant in the present, where there are so many constraints on the adventuring of children. Colonialism has rightly been re-examined in recent years, and books like this one help to remind readers that whatever else may have motivated these journeys, a great sense of adventure and personal courage were necessary. The text is organised in chapters and broken up with fictional ‘snapshots’ of parts of the journey. There are also illustrations and fact boxes to add interest. Other features include a table of Contents at the front, glossary, timeline and Index at the back. Recommended for mid-primary readers.
Captain Cook: Sailing Off the Map, Craig Scutt
black dog books 2008
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