Hopkinton mom's picture book is an adorable lesson in water safety
Gus the French bulldog was a quirky character. His squat body didn’t always align with his I-can-do-anything personality, making his antics fodder for family chuckles. Laurie Trumble Davis would often laugh at her pooch’s spunk and say, “I’ve got to write this stuff down.”
A few summers ago, she finally did. Once she put pen to paper, tales of Gus and her kids filled pages upon pages, but one memory really stuck out.
“He was determined to swim and always wanted to get out to where the kids were playing in the water,” Davis said of the summers her family spent at Schoolhouse Pond in Chatham. “He’d go full speed into the water, and sink. We were constantly grabbing him and saying, ‘no, Gus.’”
That is, until Gus got a lifejacket. He’d swim and float and even hop on a paddle board, eventually becoming a summer fixture at the pond. Kids on the beach would point and say, "there’s the dog with the lifejacket!"
“The Unsinkable Gus Davis,” the true story of this determined little bulldog, and his caretaker Bean – based on both Davis’ son and daughter – was published last month. In the book, Bean represents friendship and support; in real-life, Davis’s kids Dylan and Skylar played similar roles.
The story celebrates friendship, determination and creative problem solving while bringing awareness to water safety in an approachable way.
Davis hopes the playful story opens up a dialogue with children, without being “preachy.”
“Water safety is not always an easy conversation and can be scary for kids, but it’s important that they understand the risks that come with being around water,” she said.
Although this is her debut picture book, Davis, of Hopkinton, is no stranger to the world of books and book selling. She worked for Barnes & Noble coordinating author appearances in New England. She never imagined herself on the other side of things.
“At first I thought, who am I to write a children’s book? But something about watching Gus and his relationship with my children made me think, ‘why not try? Why not you?’” she said. “I have this connection with children that is inspiring to me. I love when kids are determined to do something and they think outside the box. I thought kids would really relate to Gus in that way.”
Davis, who is a Mema to three, said writing for children is a learn-as-you-go process where details matter. Each sentence, each word makes a difference.
“It was the most creatively challenging thing I’ve done,” said Davis. “As a first time author, the confidence you gain from seeing something finally put together is so inspiring. It’s a boost to write the next book.”
Davis is already working on a second book about Bean and Gus.
“The Unsinkable Gus Davis,” for ages 4 to 8, is available everywhere books are sold.
Connect with Davis on Instagram @laurietrumbledavis (where you can see pictures of the real-life Gus), and learn more at laurietrumbledavis.com.