Mr Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham

Published: 15th March 1990Goodreads badge
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

You Don’t Want A Unicorn by Ame Dyckman

Published: 14th February 2017Goodreads badge
: 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
 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

What’s Up Top by Marc Martin

Published: 28th August 2017Goodreads badge
Illustrator: Marc Martin
Pages: 40
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

What’s at the top of the ladder? Is it a hat? Is it a cat? Is it a snail on a whale?

Simple, playful and absurdist, this new picture book by Marc Martin is about imagination and creativity.

I love this book. It’s clever, funny, creative, all the great things which make up good children’s books. The story is told in rhyme, and what starts off simple soon descends into nonsense and absurdity which is so much fun to read, especially out loud. What’s Up Top? is just as much fun for adults to read as it is for children, Martin has done a great job to make this a fun experience for everyone, and certainly one you can reread. It’s also an ideal book for invoking children’s imaginations and allowing them to interact with the story as they too can start to theorise ‘what’s up top?’

The text is simple and is on one side, while the opposite side illustrates whatever might be ‘up top’. I enjoyed the illustrations, they are realistic and colourful, but also basic and don’t take away from the story by being overly detailed.

Martin entices you and tells a humorous story and I loved every page. This was a notable Book in the 2018 CBCA awards and I can see why. It’s a fun and engaging book that has humour, mystery, and intrigue all wrapped up in 40 pages.

You can purchase What’s Up Top? via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository | QBD

Angus and Robinson | Dymocks

Fishpond | Amazon Aust

Donovan’s Big Day by Lesléa Newman

Published: 26th April 2011Goodreads badge
 Tricycle Press
Illustrator: Mike Dutton
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★  ★  – 3 Stars

Donovan’s two moms are getting married, and he can’t wait for the celebration to begin. After all, as ringbearer, he has a very important job to do. Any boy or girl with same-sex parents—or who knows a same-sex couple—will appreciate this picture book about love, family, and marriage.  The story captures the joy and excitement of a wedding day while the illustrations show the happy occasion from a child’s point of view. 

The story is told through Donovan’s point of view and seeing his experience of the world and the Big Day was fun as Newman has mimicked the excited mind of a child and the urge to be a kid despite the importance and the fancy clothes he has to wear.

I liked the book and I enjoyed the story, I just found I couldn’t get into a rhythm reading it. It reads off like a list of things, which from a child’s mind works, but reading it I couldn’t get the flow right. The sentences are long and without punctuation which admittedly helps to convey the mind of an excited child. It is clear Donovan is going through a list in his mind of things he has been told to do and what not to do. It does make it hard to read and you have to find your own rhythm when reading but it is nice.

There’s no big agenda or message, it is all about Donavan doing his best on the Big Day. The focus is on him doing his job well and that makes it a different kind of read. One where the focus is on the child experience and his role, not the type of event. Having said that, it’s a great book that normalises a same-sex marriage and the family dynamic.

Dutton’s illustrations are good and help support the story Newman is telling. Donovan explains each step of his day and Dutton illustrates beside it in both full page and smaller illustrations. Overall, it’s a good book that promotes a child doing an important job and taking pride in doing it right. What he’s doing essentially doesn’t matter and it demonstrates that there are a lot of things you have to remember when doing an important job, especially for people you love.

You can purchase Donovan’s Big Day via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus and Robinson | Dymocks | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon Aust | Amazon

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