Wednesday, May 27, 2009
One of the best things about writing a blog about children's books is revisiting old favorites. Today I bring you one of my family's favorite picture books: Mr. Gumpy's Outing, written and illustrated by John Burningham.
Mr. Gumpy (a very English Englishman) decides to go for a boat ride down the river. Two children ask him if they can come along. Mr. Gumpy says yes, although they mustn't squabble. When a pig asks to come along. Mr. Gumpy again says yes, although no "mucking about." More animals ask for a ride, and each one is told they can come, but they are not to misbehave. Soon he has a boatload of kids and animals, and you guessed it, they start misbehaving. The boat tips over and into the water they go. Afterwards, they all go back to Mr. Gumpy's for tea.
I remember my children being lulled by Mr. Gumpy's Outing and requesting it often. There's a gentleness to the story, with Mr. Gumpy remaining the calm center amidst the surrounding chaos. The ending scene with the animals, the children and Mr. Gumpy having tea together is both tender and cheering.
I highly recommend adding Mr. Gumpy's Outing to your list of "must reads" for your 2 to 6 year old. If you decide you want a little more Mr. Gumpy in your life (and who wouldn't?) there's a sequel: Mr. Gumpy's Motorcar
BookNosher Tidbits: Mr. Gumpy's Outing was originally published in 1971 and won the Kate Greenaway Award, which is the United Kingdom's award for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children. It also won an ALA Notable Children's Book Award and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award.
I recently learned from our local children's librarian that John Burningham is married to the children's book author Helen Oxenbury. Somehow that seems just right.
BookNosher Activities: This is just the type of book that kids will want to act out. Whether it's with stuffed animals or homemade puppets, Mr. Gumpy's Outing will live on in their imaginations long after you've read the book.