A River Safari

IMG_4718For my first entry in the Small Fry Safari Reading Challenge I bring you a book with Safariness in the title Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham. Published by Henry Holt & Co. in 1971. Mr. Burningham happens to be the husband of Ms Helen Oxenbury. What a truly talented pair!!

Now, you may know that I have a passion for rivers — my river, the Paluxy, in particular. It’s the only river I’ve ever actually explored. But I figure that all rivers must be as fine as my Paluxy River.

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IMG_4742Mr. Gumpy’s Outing is about a “safari” on the river. Mr. Gumpy liked to go out on the river in his boat. One day some children asked if they could come along. Mr. Gumpy said, “Yes, if you don’t squabble.” As they floated down the river they encountered a rabbit who wanted to join them. Mr. Gumpy said ok, “but don’t hop about.” They continued to meet up with various animals who wanted to join them on their “river safari” and Mr Gumpy allowed each animal to come aboard if they promised to behave in their own way. So the traveling group grew to include a cat, a dog, a pig, a sheep, a chicken, a calf, and a goat. That was one loaded down, crowded boat!! Putting together all those different personalities in a small space is surely a recipe for diasaster!

IMG_4743 But they all traveled merrily along, until — the goat kicked. And it all went downhill from there, with each animal in turn doing that which it had promised not to do, until —- the boat tipped over and everyone fell in the river! They all swam out and lay on the river bank to dry out in the sun. Then they all walked back to Mr Gumpy’s house across the long, endless fields, and had tea.

What a great lovely adventure! With a lovely ending. I surely do like Mr Gumpy!

Now you may ask, ” where is the safari in a float down a river?” Well, in Swahili the word safari means a long journey. Mr Gumpy’s outing was certainly a long journey that included lots of animals. It was quite a grand journey for them all.

To find out more about Mr Burningham and see a gallery of his artwork visit HERE.
And a fun interview with him HERE.

If you might be looking for more adventure, you might travel over to visit Gargoyle Bruce at his safari station HERE.

IMG_2438I wish for you many fun adventures in the coming year,
and may you meet lots of friends along the way!
Happy floating!

Rhythm
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Rhythm in the Glen

I’ve been dreaming of road trips, but alas, My Mom Person claims to have no time for such things right now. So instead, I’ve decided to take y’all on a road trip — to Glen Rose, Texas. My home town!IMG_2436 Glen Rose is in north central Texas about 90 miles southwest of the Dallas/Ft Worth area. It is the county seat of Somervell County, the 3rd smallest county in the state.

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Glen Rose is a smallish kind of town. There aren’t any big tall buildings like I see in Dallas. And we don’t have a lot of traffic. What we do have is an abundance of natural geographical and geological wonders. We get lots of tourists coming out to enjoy all the cool stuff that I live with all the time.  I’ve already told you about our fossils and dinosaurs. Dinosaur Valley State Park is a great place for camping, hiking, swimming, fishing and dinosaur hunting. Fossil hunters and dinosaur enthusiasts come from far and wide.

There are 2 rivers that converge in Glen Rose.

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Paluxy River

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dog party on the Paluxy

The Paluxy River, which is the one that runs past our place and the one that I play in, and the Brazos River, which is a bigger river and probably more well known. There is a famous writer who lives in Glen Rose, Mr John Graves, who wrote a couple of books about the area. He once took a three week canoe trip down the Brazos River before they built some dams on it, and then he wrote a book called Goodbye to a River. This is a most excellent book that I highly recommend! A lot of folks come to this area to enjoy our rivers. They bring canoes and kayaks and tubes to float in. There are some places in town where you can rent these things as well.

We dogs don’t need canoes or tubes. We can have a good time just splashing and swimming! And some people like these activities as well, but some folks like to have some kind of vehicle to propel themselves down the river.

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There are also two lakes in the county for fishing and boating activities. I understand that they provide for some pretty good fishing. I’ve never been on a boat before. I’ve tried some fishing in my river. I hear that it’s supposed to be a relaxing, meditative kind of activity, but those fish are too quick for me and that makes for a stressful, frustrating kind of activity.

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Big Rocks Park on the Paluxy

Along with the water enthusiasts and the rock hounds and the camper folks, we get a lot of bikers riding through the area. The motor kind and the pedal kind. There are some really tough hills that challenge the best of them. There is a ranch called the Solavaca Ranch that has created some trails for mountain bikers and they have BIG events several times a year. In the fall we have the Paluxy Pedal for those bikers who prefer riding on the roads. Participants have a choice of distances to ride from 29 mi. without “the Wall”  up to 80 mi. with “the Wall”. I’ve not ever seen that Wall, but by the time those bikers pedal past our house they’re looking pretty tired.

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The Wall – google image

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Solavaca Ranch

And then there are the golf courses! We have 2 courses to choose from if you are into golf. I don’t play golf myself, my Mom Person says golf balls are too small for me to play with. So I can’t tell you a lot about our golf courses except that they are very popular. There are LOTS of golfers in Glen Rose!

I think that pretty much covers the local activities available for the energetic folks. But I’ve got a lot more to tell you about! Later —

For your reference if you’re ever out this way – some useful links —

Glen Rose CVB
Visit Glen Rose website

Rhodes Canoe Rental
Low Water Canoe Rental

Squaw Creek Reservoir
Wheeler Branch Reservoir

Squaw Valley Golf Club

And a clip about that book – Goodbye to a River

And another of Mr John Graves himself –

Rolling on the River —

We got to play in the river today!!  YaHoo!! I LOVE the river! I like to swim and fetch my toy. And roll in stuff. Walker likes to get wet and run, run, run. He’s like a black gazelle. The Mom Person likes to explore. And throw my toy. And take pictures. And throw my toy. The trees along the bank are all losing their leaves and the river is full of pretty color. It’s the purple season — purple flowers and purple leaves and purple berries. And you thought dogs were color blind. We didn’t see a lot of wildlife. A lot of little frogs. And a fisherman up river a bit.

We’ve got this really nice book called Where the River Begins by Thomas Locker. It is filled with the most beautiful, serene paintings by Mr Locker.  The story is about 2 boys who live next to a river and wonder where the river begins. So their grandfather takes them on a camping trip to see if they can find the beginning of the river. They have a nice, leisurely trek all the way up the river. It’s a companionable trip with just the 2 boys, their grandfather and their dog. And all of the natural world around them.

I don’t know where this book river is. It doesn’t look much like my river, except that it’s not very big. My river has big rocks and cliffs and thick forests along the bank. I think about swimming up river as far as I can go. But I think that it would be a long way. Sometimes in the summer our river goes dry and then we can walk up the river bed and find fossils and dinosaur tracks  and other treasures. We’ve walked up a couple of miles before, but then we just turned back and went home.

Rivers are magical places. The sounds and the smells and the wildlife. I recommend a river trip for everyone. Whether to find the beginning of one or the end. To swim or to fish. To ride the rapids in a kayak or tube the slow parts. A river is full of stories.

The beginning of my river, The Paluxy River, is up there somewhere. For now I’ll just stick with my little part of it.

Thomas Locker has written and illustrated many similar books for children. He died this year and I’m glad that I got to know him a little through his work. I hope that you will check out Where the River Begins or one of his other fine books.

And Happy Drifting!

Seaman’s Journal — A Newfoundland’s Tale

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday at Susanna Hill’s and I have an adventure story for you!


Seaman’s Journal written and illustrated by Patricia Reeder Eubank.
Published by Ideals Children’s Books in 2002.

A fiction book based on a true story. Suitable for elementary age kids.

This is the story of Seaman, a Newfoundland belonging to Merriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame who explored the Pacific Northwest. It is based on “true entries in Lewis’s own journal describing his dog Seaman.”  And from the 1st page — ” Here is my story of the greatest adventure a dog ever had when I followed Lewis and Clark all the way to the Pacific Ocean and back again.”

I love this book. The illustrations by Ms Eubank are beautiful. Each page is full of bits of wildlife and plantlife that the explorers encountered on their adventure. They traveled in boats down rivers meeting Native Americans and chasing off bears and bison. Seaman was right in the middle of it all, looking after Mr. Lewis. What a story!  When I go down to my river to play, I sometimes dream of adventures like this one.

This book even comes with an attached bookmark that is Seaman himself!  How cool is that?! And at the end of the book is a recipe for Pemmican, which is something that they snacked on while travelling. And does it ever sound yummy!!  Newfoundlands are BIG, courageous dogs. I’ve known a few in my day. Kids love these dogs!  And they love kids!  They also love water and are often used for water rescue work.

I have seen several books about Seaman. I guess he’s a pretty inspirational guy. One is Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog’s Tale by Laurie Myers. And another is The Captain’s Dog: My Journey with the Lewis and Clark Tribe by Roland Smith. These books are also told by Seaman himself, but they are for older kids and don’t have as many pretty pictures. But you might want to check them out as well if you’re interested in dog adventurers.

This would be an excellent book to use in the classroom to learn about Lewis and Clark, Native Americans, life on the western frontier in the 1800’s, Newfoundland dogs and all that they can do. You might could do a natural history lesson about wildlife and where animals live and what they need to survive. And talk about the impact that man has had on animal habitats and populations.

Ms Eubank has a very nice website that you might like to visit. You can find more of her books there.

I highly recommend this book on many levels. It’s a lovely, lovely book. I give it 4 paws and hope that you will check it out!