Gavin Bishop: Cook’s Cook book launch

Gavin Bishop, along with Gecko Press and Scorpio Books, launched his latest illustrated book at Tūranga, Cook’s Cook: The cook who cooked for Captain Cook. 2019 will be the 250th anniversary of the visit of the H.M. Endeavour to Aotearoa New Zealand and Bishop’s book offers a fresh perspective on their journey.

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Gavin Bishop at the launch of his new book Cook’s Cook, October 2018, Tūranga

A large audience heard how Bishop spent several years researching for the book, which he says he really enjoyed, but was overwhelmed by the information he found.

One thing that struck him was the number of books that contradicted each other.

His challenge was how to find his own unique angle on the Endeavour story. As he looked through the names of the crew on the boat and their occupations, he began to wonder about the lesser-known members on board and was particularly struck by their curiously one-handed cook, John Thompson.

The story of the crew’s journey is told through food “as a point of context,” explains Bishop, with the cook as narrator. And, as his publisher Julia Marshall from Gecko Press notes “you can tell so many different stories through food—everything is here: culture, class, adventure, humour and much more.”

Cook's CookThe Endeavour was originally the collier Earl of Pembroke and was designed for a crew of just 16 but when it sailed as the Endeavour it had 94 crew on board, packed in like sardines. And the meals were prepared on the mess deck where 74 men slept!

The cooking process on the Endeavour seemed to involve throwing everything together in a pot or bag and boiling it. Bishop says the meat became so rank that it was towed in a net behind the boat to soften it up and every second day was a vegetarian day consisting of Pease Porridge. To avoid scurvy, the cook served up stinky German cabbage. But all was not awful for the men, as it was noted how much booze was aboard the ship.

The book contains a little story about each of the countries the Endeavour visited and explains some of the names of the recipes featured such as Poor Knights Pudding, Stingray Soup, Kangaroo Stew, Dog and Breadfruit Stew and Albatross Stew “which you wouldn’t get away with today.” There were goats, dogs, pigs, sheep, cats and chickens on board. And when the ship crossed the equator everyone aboard, including the cats, were apparently tied to a chair and dipped into the water 3 times in an equator crossing ritual.

Bishop told his audience that there are two stories about the Endeavour that you won’t find anywhere else except in his book. One was told by Pete Beech, whose family was there in Picton when the Endeavour came with Cook, and tells the story of how a Māori woman was tricked into giving her taonga away for a bag of sugar. And the second story comes from an obscure poem that mentions a slave named Dalton on board who was a servant of botanist Joseph Banks. Like the Endeavour, not a centimetre of space in Bishop’s book was wasted, he says, and even the endpapers are full of illustrated facts.

Cover of Aotearoa: The New Zealand story by Gavin BishopAt the book launch, Gecko Press were also celebrating 10 years of working with Bishop, starting with his collaboration for Joy Cowley in illustrating their successful Snake & Lizard. Marshall  said what a treat it is working with Bishop: “Gavin is a true artist and very knowledgeable.” Gavin’s other book published in the past year is the illustratively stunning Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story.

Our Painted Stories

You can see more of Bishop’s work in the Our Painted Stories exhibition at about the presence and importance of local Canterbury settings in children’s literature. Original artworks in the exhibition are from Bishop’s Mr. Fox and Mrs. McGinty and the Bizarre Plant as well as Margaret Mahy’s Summery Saturday Morning.

Mr FoxMrs McGinty and the Bizarre PlantA Summery Saturday Morning

The books and exhibition feature scenes from around Christchurch such as the Edmonds Factory with its ‘Sure to Rise’ signage as well as further afield on Banks Peninsula.

The Importance of Identity

Join international award-winning writer and illustrator Gavin Bishop and invited guests as we explore the Our Painted Stories exhibition and have a conversation about how seeing ourselves and our city in children’s literature helps grow a sense of identity.
Wednesday 24th October 5:30-6:30pm 
Tūranga
Free, no bookings required
Created in partnership with the Painted Stories Trust. 

While visiting Tūranga, Gavin was delighted to discover a picture of his family on our Discovery Wall that even he didn’t have a copy of.

Gavin Bishop, with his youngest daughter Alexandra and his book “Chicken Licken”, 8 June 1984, Reference ID: CCL-StarP-00740A

It is auspicious that just as Gavin Bishop was the first author to have a book launched at the old central library, he is also the first author to launch a book in the new library, Tūranga, 36 years later.

Gavin Bishop at the Mr Fox book launch
18 September 1982 Gavin Bishop, with his book “Mr Fox” which was the first book to be launched at the Canterbury Public Library on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace. Reference ID: CCL-StarP-00739A

More about Gavin Bishop

Cool stuff from the selectors: Children’s books

Nadiya’s Bake me a story by Nadiya Hussain
Winner of the 2015 Great British Bake Off combines traditional tales and recipes for all the family. She also has a new Christmas title Bake me a Festive Story arriving in October.

CoverCoverCover

Fish girl by Donna Jo Napoli
Napoli teams with Caldecott winner David Wiesner in this Graphic Novel about a young mermaid who is the main attraction in an aquarium. She can’t talk and she can’t walk but she can make friends with a girl named Livia. Can she find a new life on land?  Like all David Wiesner’s books the pictures in this book are outstanding.

Celebration of Beatrix Potter : art and letters by more than 30 of today’s book illustrators
Wonderful re-imaginations of some of Beatrix Potter’s famous tales by artists like Jon Agee, Tommie dePaola, Brian Pinkney and Rosemary Wells, the fabulous David Wiesner makes another appearance here also.  Each illustration is accompanied by text from the artist explaining what that character means to them, making this a true celebration of Beatrix Potter.

Christchurch – Our Underground  Story by Phil Wilkins
If you have a child who has been fascinated by all the trucks, bulldozers, diggers and construction going on around Christchurch then this rather quirky book could be a hit.  Designed as a large board book with lift the flaps it contains everything you did (or perhaps didn’t want to know) about what has been going on under our feet.
Read our post on Christchurch – Our underground story

A look inside Christchurch: Our underground story by Phil Wilkins and Martin Coates

Illustrating Margaret

cover of Dashing DogMargaret Mahy was a spell caster no doubt of it. Not just children and parents, but illustrators fell under her spell. The other night I was watching A tall long faced tale , the very creative documentary about Margaret and her work which recently screened on television. Happily we have a lot of copies of the DVD in our libraries but if you want a taster it is here on NZ On Screen. Some very famous illustrators talk about the magic of working with Margaret.

The very next day what should I see but a wonderful account from New Zealand author and  illustrator Donovan Bixley about how he worked on illustrating  Margaret’s book  Dashing Dog. Donovan has been our November Star author on our Christchurch Kids blog. The Kids blog is something anyone interested in children’s books should read. The monthly star authors are a particular treat with writers from New Zealand and overseas. Amongst Donovan’s posts from November are The Art of Hybrid Novels, Part One and The Art of Hybrid Novels, Part Two which make very interesting reading, especially if you are interested in graphic novels.

From the meaningful to the delightful: Cool new stuff from our selectors

In the field of philosophy, psychology and religion there are interesting titles coming along soon.

Cover of David and Goliath

Gary Quinn’s The Yes frequency deals with the much vaunted idea of mindfulness and encourages the reader to break habits that lock them into self-defeating behaviours.

Eldon Taylor’s Choices and illusions mixes science and spirituality while Douglas T. Kenrick’s Rational animal looks at our decision-making processes and finds that many are entirely irrational and proposes a new alternative based on evolutionary science.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of the bestsellers Blink and The tipping point,  has a new book, likely to be a big seller, named David and Goliath,  which sets out to challenge how we deal with obstacles, disadvantages and disabilities.

Reza Aslan’s book Zealot- the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth has had a lot of advance publicity and its attempt to balance the Jesus of the Gospels with the historical records of the time should give food for thought.

Moving into the area of children’s books,  Judith Kerr, famous for The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the iconic Mog books, has written Judith Kerr’s creatures  It is a lavishly illustrated retrospective. Our selector loved seeing the very early drawings Kerr did as a child. She tells the story of her life from war torn Europe up until the celebration of her 90th birthday.
Cover of Judith Kerr's creaturesCover of Maurice Sendak

Another great big fabulous tome to drool over is Maurice Sendak:  A Celebration of the Artist and His Work. Described in the book as the pre-eminent Children’s book artist of the twentieth century, we certainly have no argument with that!  Celebrate his 60 year career with this full colour catalogue of more than two hundred images exhibited at the Society of Illustrators in New York in June and August 2013.

Join the fun at the 2011 Storylines Free Family Day

The Storylines Free Family Days are held every year throughout New Zealand to celebrate the amazing, extremely talented authors and illustrators that we have in our country.  This year the Christchurch Free Family Day is being held at Cobham Intermediate School, 294 Ilam Road, Burnside on Sunday 21 August, from 10am-3pm.  It’s a chance for you and your children to meet some fantastic New Zealand authors and illustrators, including:

And some very special guests…

Your children could get their favourite author’s autograph, listen to them talk about their books and read some of them, or enter the Storylines competition.  It’s totally FREE, so come along with your family and join the fun.  You can download the programme from the library website or grab one from your library.

Shaun Tan scoops another award

The Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Award winners were announced last week and Shaun Tan, an amazing illustrator and author scooped one of the top awards.  Shaun Tan is one of those illustrators that appeals hugely to adults as well as children and his artwork is absolutely stunning and quite surreal.  My mum, who has introduced me to so many great books since I was born, doesn’t like him because he’s a little too weird for her tastes, but it is this quirkiness that really appeals to me.  One of the main things I love about his illustrations is that they are quite different from book to book.  His latest book, Tales from Outer Suburbia, is the book that has won the Older Readers category of the CBCA Awards and it is the best example of his different styles.  It is a collection of  short stories that he has written and illustrated, some funny and some slightly disturbing.  Definitely check out his work, even if you don’t normally read picture books.

Although some of the other finalists in the awards did not win their category, several of my favourites got an Honour Award including The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness by Colin Thompson (in the Picture Book category) and A Rose for the ANZAC Boys by Jackie French (in the Older Readers category).  You can check out all the winners on the Children’s Book Council of Australia website which also has some links to the websites of Australian authors and illustrators.

Lots of fun at Storylines Family Day

The Storylines Family Day in Christchurch was held yesterday at the Town Hall and I was one of the lucky volunteers who got to meet lots of really great New Zealand authors, illustrators and performers.  There was something for everybody, from making your own bookmark, having your face painted and meeting Clifford the big red dog, to listening to Ken Catran, Margaret Mahy and Fleur Beale talk about their stories.  I always get a buzz from getting to meet and talk to authors whose books I enjoy and it’s even better when I can get my books signed.  The organisers deserve a huge congratulations for making it such a fun and entertaining day.  The family day in Christchurch is now a regular event and I’m sure next year’s one will be bigger and better.