Mr Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham

Published: 15th March 1990Goodreads badge
Publisher: 
Square Fish
Illustrator: John Burningham
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Star

Mr. Gumpy lives by a river. One sunny day he decides to take a ride in his small boat.

It is such a perfect idea, for such a perfect summer day, that he soon has company: first the children, then the rabbit, the cat, the dog, the pig, the sheep, the chickens, and still others until– Mr. Gumpy’s outing comes to an inevitable but not unhappy, conclusion.

“Come for a ride another day,” says Mr. Gumpy at the book’s end. And young readers will return again and again to this sprightly story with its clever, captivating illustrations that reflect the sunlit quality of a lazy summer afternoon.

A classic story of Burningham’s that remains popular and everlasting. Mr Gumpy plans to go on a boat trip and soon all those nearby want to come along as well: if they all behave themselves.

Gumpy’s own good nature gets him in to trouble as one should never work with children and animals, their instincts and nature failing to be held back for a quick boating trip. While there are antics and warnings, Gumpy is a good soul and has no hard feelings for the companion’s behaviour.

There is tension and suspense as you worry how much more this boat can take, will these occupants behave themselves? Will the boat be able to stay afloat? I really enjoyed this story, it’s simple but filled with substance and has a nice bit of adventure and friendship.

The illustrations are a wonderful accompaniment to the story, working together to tell the story Burningham wanted to tell. The pictures are uniquely Burningham’s style of fine line and recognisable, uncomplicated designs which are a combination of simplicity and wonderful detail.

The ending is heartwarming and you can really see why this story has lasted and why it’s beloved by so many.

You can purchase Mr Gumpy’s Outing via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon Aust | Amazon

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (#1) by Robert C. O’Brien

Long Lost Reviews is a monthly meme created by Ally over at Ally’s Appraisals which is posted on the second Thursday of every month. The aim is to start tackling your review backlog. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis of how it affected your life, one sentence stating that you only remember the ending, or that you have no recollection of reading the book at all. 

Todays LLR is one I actually found in my drafts from the long ago time of 2013. It’s a short, strange review but it’s a decent start because I remember very little about the book without it. It’s so strange reading this now because I would not have written this review like this now, but that’s what 5 years of practice will do. I don’t say much in this review in terms of specifics but I seemed to quite enjoy the book.

Published: 25th July 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Tinder Press
Pages: 341
Format: Paperback
Genre: Children Classic
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma.

This story is yet another example of “why, oh why have I not read this book sooner?” It makes you wonder if somewhere in this wide world there are rats out there doing as these rats do. It was a really great read and nothing was skipped over and everything was explained in great detail, especially concerning the rats themselves, which managed to leave nothing unanswered but still keep the story interesting and engaging.

Mrs Frisby is a great mother, regardless of being a mouse, certainly a fine example of just what a mother will do when her child and family are in trouble. And so modest too, truly a darling. What was great was how everything was described and explained from the mice and rats perspective, the settings and narration took you into their world and made you realise how much they pick up from their surroundings, both in the human world and from nature.

The ending left me wanting to know more because there is such a strong investment in their story when it ends you really want to know what happened afterwards. There is a sequel that wasn’t written by the author but hopefully that fills in where this leaves off, or even just addresses the final mystery, but even without that there is a concluding feel where you know things will happen and the plans that are put in place by the mice and the rats will come into fruition.

 

You Don’t Want A Unicorn by Ame Dyckman

Published: 14th February 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher
: Little Brown
Illustrator: Liz Climo
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

When a little boy throws a coin in a well asking for a pet unicorn, he has no idea what kind of trouble he’s in for. Unbeknownst to him, unicorns make the absolutely worst pets: they shed, they poke holes in your ceiling, and they make a big mess. With a knowing wink from Ame Dyckman, creator of Wolfie the Bunny and cheerful illustrations from Rory the Dinosaur creator and Tumblr star Liz Climo, this rollicking story shares all of the ways a pet unicorn can ruin your life, and is sure to have readers in stitches.

Dyckman tells a humorous and delightful story about a boy who wishes for a unicorn and Climo brings it to life with her unique style. I loved the humour in Dyckman’s story and the interaction the narration has with the character. They speak to each other, rather than the reader and we get to watch this brilliant interaction while the narrator tries to warn of the dangers and trouble of having a unicorn.

Climo’s illustrations are to be enjoyed on their own because once again she has created wonderful drawings that are clever, funny, and suit this story perfectly. The pictures are bright and colourful and small accompaniments to the words on the page, which I love. There are also full page illustrations which allow a lot of fun as you study the drawings and find all the hidden detail and cheekiness that Climo has included.

This is the ideal present for anyone thinking of getting a unicorn and need to know of the hassles they bring before they introduce them into their home.

You can purchase You Don’t Want A Unicorn via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks

Angus and Robinson | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Published: March 15th 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Illustrator: Lucy Ruth Cummins
Pages: 36
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Once upon a time there was a very hungry lion and some adorable little animals…

What do you think happened next?

This might be one of the most fun and cleverest books ever. It manages to subvert your expectations in about four different ways in the space of 36 pages. You think you know what will happen but your ideas are turned on their end, and then when you think you’re correct again they change once more.

Cummins has been extraordinarily clever with this book. The language is funny, it is repetitive in a good way, silly, and a tad absurd. Coupled with her cute rough looking drawings it sets the scene and adds to the delight of reading.

This is a countdown book of sorts as you list the ever dwindling assortment of animals that are near the hungry lion. The writing is funny and the formatting makes you wait for the right reveals and read it with the correct tone.

There are surprises and twists and I loved every single page. I read this and then went and made three other people read it because I love it so much. I picked it up because there was a lion on the cover because I’m that easy to please, and I am so amazed and grateful it turned out to be such an amazing book.

You can purchase A Hungry Lion via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Beauty in Thorns by Kate Forsyth

Published: 3 July 2017 (print)/ August 2017 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Vintage Australia/Wavesound Audio
Pages: 464/19 hours
Narrator: Juliette Burton
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Historical Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

The Pre-Raphaelites were determined to liberate art and love from the shackles of convention. 

Ned Burne-Jones had never had a painting lesson and his family wanted him to be a parson. Only young Georgie Macdonald – the daughter of a Methodist minister – understood. She put aside her own dreams to support him, only to be confronted by many years of gossip and scandal.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was smitten with his favourite model, Lizzie Siddal. She wanted to be an artist herself, but was seduced by the irresistible lure of laudanum. 

William Morris fell head-over-heels for a ‘stunner’ from the slums, Janey Burden. Discovered by Ned, married to William, she embarked on a passionate affair with Gabriel that led inexorably to tragedy.

Margot Burne-Jones had become her father’s muse. He painted her as Briar Rose, the focus of his most renowned series of paintings, based on the fairy-tale that haunted him all his life. Yet Margot longed to be awakened to love. 

Bringing to life the dramatic true story of love, obsession and heartbreak that lies behind the Victorian era’s most famous paintings, Beauty in Thorns is the story of awakenings of all kinds.

Once again Forsyth has written a beautiful book that is filled with beauty, history, and heartache. I had been looking forward to reading this book and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The lives of the Pre-Raphaelites is tragic and inspiring, and to be swept up into their world was a vivid adventure.

This retelling of Sleeping Beauty explores the life of the famous artists who called themselves the Pre-Raphaelites. It was an area of history and art I knew little to nothing about but discovering their story thorugh this book was delightful.

Forsyth brings their stories to life with such detail and expression, and I marvelled at how these characters are more than character, they are people from history who contributed to the world and who brought their art and passion to the public.

What I found absolutely marvellous is that I could look up the halls of the Oxford Union Debating Chamber and see the murals in their completion whilst listening to the story about their creation. Seeing the completed works of these historical figures and putting real faces to the names is a delight that historical fiction can bring, especially when Forsyth does such a wonderful job keeping it as close to historically accurate as possible, with her own fairy tale mastery woven through.

The narration shifts between all of the character offering up a rounded perspective of their experiences and characters. The passion of Rossetti and the tragedy of Lizzie, as well as the brilliant and fascinating men and women who surrounded them is fascinating to read about. The story moves slowly but not dully, the exploration of character and the creation of art is fulfilling. With multiple characters to explore Forsyth balances their introductions and their voices very well, each having depth and complications that make you understand who they are and who they were.

I was fascinated about how so many known people from history connected to these characters, Kipling and Bernard Shaw all connect with these artists and Forsyth has blended their stories together beautifully. This is a wonderful skill I have noticed in all of Forsyth’s books. She seamlessly includes a range of information into the story that act like natural conversation and narrative without ever falling into the exposition chunk trap, which makes for a wonderful read but also help define the period and inform readers of the historical aspects of the story. Details about the movements of characters and filling in events that occur during the skipped time fall into place. I often got caught up in the story that when a character mentions people passed away years ago or were married for a certain amount of years I realised how much time had passed and it amazed me that it felt so right to just go on this journey with these character across their entire lives.

Forsyth covers numerous decades over the lives of these artists and their families. Even in the short space of reading this book I felt nostalgic, as these great figures entered their older age and they themselves were reminiscing about their youth. I recalled the chapters when they were young and carefree. I felt like I had gone on this journey with these artists and I empathised with them and pitied them.

When characters like Georgie and Ned reminisce about being young I thought back to the chapters where they were so carefree and idealistic, painting the mural and found myself becoming wistful sad and nostalgic alongside them. It hadn’t been 30 years for me, but I had been on this journey of their lives and seen their struggles and achievements and I wanted to mourn for them and celebrate them in a small way.

Burton does a wonderful job narrating the audiobook. I could picture everything with Forsyth’s words and Burton distinguishes these characters and brings their personalities off the page. Listening to the audio also gave the sensation of storytelling, I was being told a story about these grand artists from long ago and I loved listening to Burton tell me about their lives.

I implore you to look up their artwork when you have finished reading this book, I loved that I could see the finished product of a piece I’d only read about, or see the models that Forsyth describes in her story. It is a benefit of historical fiction and with a wonderful historical fairytale as beautiful as this it was a delight to relive it in a new way.

You can purchase Beauty in Thorns via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus and Robinson | Dymocks

Fishpond | Amazon Aust | Amazon | Audible

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