Book Reviews Picture Books

Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham

Recently, I was reading the quite excellent A Family of Readers, and it mentioned a book I had not thought of in years: Mr. Gumpy’s Outing.

I checked it out from the library (the copy was ancient (this book was first published in 1970) and I tried not to think of the forty years of dirty fingers that had touched it). Reading it to Ella brought me such pleasure that when I saw a hardback copy of it on Borders for $1.31, well, I didn’t linger over the “Buy” button very long.

Mr. Gumpy owns a boat and his house is by a river. Naturally, when he goes out on his boat, two children are eager to join him. He agrees, on the condition that they “don’t squabble.” Soon he has collected a veritable ark of passengers, all who have been instructed not to do various things (my favorite being the pig who is asked not to “muck about”).

For a while, all is calm, but then, “the goat kicked, the calf trampled. . . ” and, well, you can imagine what happens next. Fortunately, Mr. Gumpy is not the least bit grumpy about the day’s adventures and all ends happily.

The art is so folksy and sweet and the text has such a nice rhythm, that it’s the perfect book for a very young child.

This is one I’m glad to have on my bookshelf and that I will likely read more than one gazillion times to my children. Now to look for the new-to-me (but still 35 year-old) companion book, Mr. Gumpy’s Motor Car.

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  • Reply lifeofadoctorswife December 15, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    This looks adorable! I love old-timey sounding words like "squabble" and "trample." I mean, they're NOT old-timey, but I rarely hear them in day-to-day life… So they have a sort of grandparent-y feel.

  • Reply Jenny December 15, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    40 years of dirty fingers?
    you've given me a whole new perspective on checking out library books… dang it!

  • Reply Packrat December 16, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Really, we worry so much about germs. BTW, 40 years is not ancient, thank you very much! LOL

  • Reply Landen December 16, 2010 at 2:14 am

    I have not thought about this book in years! Thanks for the reminder. This was a great book!

  • Reply missshortskirt December 16, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Not-so-funny story, but funny to me: Jon Burningham was at the Horn Book Awards this year, and he brought with him a friend who was just kind of lurking around the corners of the ceremony and the cocktails afterwards, but he looked EXACTLY LIKE MR. GUMPY. He is real! I've seen him!

  • Reply Mad Hadder December 18, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Which brings up MY favorite Christmas book incidentally written by Mr Burningham as well! Harvey Schlumphenberger's Christmas Present. Get it and read it, but you MUST have a stack of hats nearby to schlep on quickly. Needless to say, you also need to practice several cool accents for a couple of days as well.

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