Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers Third Grade

Kate Temple and Jol Temple, illustrated by Jon Foye
AUD $14.99

Jimmy Cook is finding History Week a bit boring until Ms Fennel starts banging on about Captain Cook. Then - bingo! Turns out he and Captain Cook have a lot in common. Here are three of the big ones: they are both named James Cook; they are both great explorers; and they both look great in a tricorn hat. Funny fiction for those who love Tom Gates and Timmy Failure.

HONOUR BOOK: CBCA Book of the Year, Younger Readers, 2017

Jimmy Cook has discovered that he has quite a lot in common with the explorer Captain James Cook. No doubt they were related. So when he finds out that Captain Cook met with a sticky end in Hawaii, he's determined to travel to the island to finish what he started. His parents aren't so interested but luckily Jimmy's favourite brand of cereal is running a competition. First prize: a Hawaiian Holiday.

Jimmy is going to have to eat a lot of full-fibre Wheetblocks to enter, but big dreams come with a big price. And no price is too big when it comes to Captain James Cook especially if it means beating the world's most annoying person, Alice Toolie.

Author bio:

Kate and Jol have written five children's books including Parrot Carrot, I Got This Hat and Mike I Don't Like. These books have found themselves on the NSW Premier's Reading Lists a number of shortlists and MIKE was even awarded Best Designed Children's Book in Australia by the Australian Publishers' Association. I Got This Hat was recently announced as 2016 National Storytime Book.

They have also been the recipients of Australia Council grants to create digital adaptions of their books. Parrot Carrot's digital companion won Creative Show Case and was shortlisted at a number of national and international award shows. It also reached number 2 on iTunes.

Kate and Jol have presented at the Byron Bay Writer's festival for the past three years and have been invited to the Adelaide Festival for 2016. When they are not writing books they love to get out and talk to schools and read to library groups.

Category: Children's
ISBN: 9781760291938
Awards: Shortlisted Australian Book Design Awards - Best Designed Children's Fiction Book 2017 AU; Honour Book CBCA Book of the Year, Younger Readers 2017 AU
Publisher: A&U Children's
Imprint: A & U Children
Pub Date: April 2016
Page Extent: 160
Format: Paperback
Age: 7 - 10
Subject: Children's, Teenage & educational

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Teachers Reviews

What a wonderful character, Kate and Jol Temple have created in James Cook. To an adult we see his black and white perception of the world, but to a child, his portrayal of his life is a version of their life. Children will understand his frustrations with a mum that experiments with food, is fearlessly protective of her family and has a completely “adult” view of the events in his life. Dad has retained an understanding of life as a child and, how difficult it sometimes is, to negotiate an adult perception of how tasks should be done. His support of James in his work experience is a reflection of this.

Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers Third Grade will lend itself to many aspects of the school curriculum:

  • History and the use of primary sources could be discussed in the mention of the Endeavour artefacts and the painting of James Cook in Tahiti
  • Family history and its importance to self-perception
  • Art as a primary source and its interpretation as an historical record: accurate or too open to personal interpretations?
  • Reconciliation with different groups both past and present:- James in Hawaii at cultural show, James and Alice Toolie
  • Logs and diaries compare their use as recording devices
  • Keeping records in the form of inventory and weather data, how and to whom would this be useful?
  • Health both mental and physical could be discussed with the competition between James and Alice and its consequences to others , particularly their classmates

Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers Third Grade will entertain children with its short chapters, familiar settings and fast moving events. There is plenty of opportunity for class discussion within the text and I am sure it will become a popular resource both in class and the school library.
Suzanne Singleton-Brown, Retired K-12 Teacher and Librarian, Volunteer at Valley View Public School, NSW

It all starts in History Week when Jimmy Cook discovers three things…
1. Captain Cook was the greatest explorer that ever lived.
2. Captain Cook is his great grandfather 32 times removed
3. Third grade is going to be the best year of his life.

He also discovers that he and said Captain Cook have three things in common…
1. They share the same name
2. They are both great explorers
3. They both look good in a tricorn hat.

Discovering these things is almost as good as the escape of the class’s pet ambystona mexicanum (axolotl) and helps the younger James Cook discover there is more to history than that discovered so far on His interest wanes fractionally when Ms. Fennel insists that each student keeps a diary of Cook. Jimmy is having none of this “sitting down with a fluffy purple pen and drawing rainbows that smile and flowers with tears.” Diaries are definitely girl things and Captain James Cook would never have done that as he bravely explored the high seas, but he changes his mind when Ms. Fennel points out that a ‘boy diary’ is called a log, and Captain James most definitely kept one of those.

So for the next six weeks Jimmy Cook keeps a log, starting with a note of the weather and an inventory of his pockets, as all logs do. He shares his excitement at having to dress as Captain Cook and his bitter disappointment when he discovers that the local museum does not have HM Bark Endeavour but just an old nail. But it is his discovery that Cook died a violent death in Hawaii, a land surely still inhabited by savages who need to be tamed, that provides the impetus for him to get to Hawaii himself, and the discovery that a cereal company is offering an all-expenses paid trip there to the person who collects the most coupons could be his means to get there.

This is a rollicking, fast-moving story full of typical Year 3 thoughts and humour that will carry the reader along, eager to discover whether Jimmy beats his rival Alice Toolie in the coupon collection stakes and whether he does make it to Hawaii to tame the savage beasts who killed his hero and great grandfather (32x removed). With the diary entries keeping chapters short and interspersed with graphics that could have been drawn by Jimmy himself, it has broad appeal for younger readers who will see themselves in the story somewhere. It has its serious moments, particularly when Jimmy does work experience as a Town Crier helping Bernie the homeless man sell The Big Deal, but all in all, it’s an engaging read that will inspire our younger boys to keep reading.

They can discover more on YouTube at and look forward to Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers X Marks the Spot.
Barbara Braxton, Teacher Librarian, NSW

Authors such as Kate and Jol Temple who write stories that appeal to both children and adults do a wonderful thing and this is one such book.
Jimmy is a likeable, confident character in the third grade at school. What at first seems like another boring history lesson, soon captures Jimmy’s imagination as he discovers many connections with Captain James Cook the famous explorer. Trouble is, Jimmy confuses the past with the present and upon learning that Captain Cook died at the hand of the Hawaiians, Jimmy decides to go to Hawaii, sort out the natives and carry on where Captain Cook left off.

This book is written in diary format; OOPS sorry, ship’s log format and Jimmy is the narrator. (Diaries are for girls.) This book would be a good exemplar to introduce diary/journal style writing. Readers will identify with Jimmy’s school life: the cool and annoying classmates; and his family life. I would also enjoy reading this book aloud to my class, stopping along the way to introduce them to a bit of history and finding out a bit more about topics such as scurvy, and trying out some of the science experiments Jimmy did.
Claire Cheeseman, Teacher, Laingholm Primary School, NZ

Jimmy Cook is in the third grade and is a descendant of the famous explorer Captain James Cook. He is in NO WAY keeping a diary because that’s for girls, but as part of a class assignment he agrees to keep a LOG, because that’s what Captain Cook did.

I read the first chapter to a class of eight to ten-year-old students, and they were hooked. Many of them could identify with an axolotl as a class pet, and the boys made connections with the anti-girlie diary sentiment. The humour in the writing also appealed.

Jimmy is a very likeable, credible character. He keeps his log diligently, recording, with accidental humour, events in his school and family life. When he realises Captain James Cook is no longer alive as he was killed in Hawaii, Jimmy is determined to get to Hawaii and carry on where the captain left off. Jimmy does get confused between the present and the past and is convinced his tired baby sister has scurvy and needs an orange; so he feeds her one.

This book is a great lead-in to learning about history. I have been reading ahead and challenging the students to find out what Jimmy is about to find out. It will be a welcome addition to our Diary genre shelves which are a little too full of ‘girlie’ diaries.
Nova Gibson, Librarian, Massey Primary School, NZ