Mr Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham
John Burningham was an award winning writer and illustrator who sadly passed away last Friday at the age of 82. He was a local author, born in Farnham and was married to another wonderful author of picture books, Helen Oxenbury. His books have been loved by generations of children and so I have chosen one of his titles for the book of the week.
Mr Gumpy’s Outing was published in 1970 and won the Kate Greenaway Prize that year. He had won the same award previously with another book in 1963.
This book is a gentle tale of Mr Gumpy who lived by the river and decided to go out on his boat. The children asked if they could join him and he said they could as long as they didn’t squabble. Then a host of animals also wanted to come along, and he had a warning for each of them – “yes, but don’t hop about” he said to the bunny, “yes, but don’t flap” he said to the chickens, etc. Of course, the trip reaches an inevitable conclusion when all the children and animals start doing what they were told not to do, but in a very good natured way. At the end, Mr Gumpy still invites them to come again another day.
There are plenty of opportunities for discussion with this book, starting from looking at traits of different animals, wondering what will happen next and whether everyone will even fit in the boat. A deeper discussion could also take place about consequences. The text is very simple and short which makes it suitable for younger children, but it also has enough within the story and illustrations for older children to enjoy.
- Book of the week
- Kate Greenaway Prize