FEARLESS FRENCH BULLDOG TEACHES KIDS WATER SAFETY THIS SUMMER
All it takes is a persistent bulldog and a creative human friend to prove that, with a little practice and adaptation, anything is possible. The Unsinkable Gus Davis (June 21, 2022, The Collective Book Studio) is a playful story for kids ages 4-8 about figuring things out, staying safe around water, and laughing along the way!
Gus Davis is an irrepressible French Bulldog who believes he can do anything—including swim. His best (human) friend, Bean, knows that it’s impossible for bulldogs to swim: their legs are too short, their noses are too flat, and their bodies are too pudgy! The problem is that Gus isn’t having any of it. But Bean is caring and smart. She figures out the problem and comes up with a solution so that Gus can splash around safely. And Gus? Well, of course, he knew he could swim all along. This delightful story about how we all get by with a little help from our friends provides an opportunity to talk about swimming and water safety in a way that is playful, humorous, and engaging.
Our Interview with Author, Laurie Trumble Davis
Question: What inspired you to write this story, and who is Gus Davis?
Laurie Davis: Gus was a strong-willed yet lovable French bulldog dog with a quirky little bark who insisted on doing things his way and on his terms! At times I couldn’t tell if Gus reminded me more of a toddler or an old man, but when Gus insisted on swimming—against all odds—I knew I had to tell his story. His story is one that celebrates friendship, determination, and creative problem solving while bringing awareness to water safety in a non-scary, non-confrontational way.
Question: Tell us more about Bean and her relationship with Gus. How similar are these characters to their real-life counterparts?
Davis: Bean’s character is based on the relationship both my son and daughter had with Gus. In the book, she represents friendship, support, and thoughtful problem-solving in a gentle, caring way. In real-life, Dylan and Skylar played similar roles. They kept him safe and out of trouble which was a full-time job! But Gus always repaid his gratitude with his one-of-a-kind snuggles and laughable antics. Bean’s character is a true interpretation of their friendship with Gus, supporting him in every way, even when his dreams seemed impossible—an undeniable love between human and animal.
Question: What do you hope readers will walk away with after reading The Unsinkable Gus Davis?
Davis: My hope is that I’ve created characters that children can relate to and a story that helps them develop strength, courage, and self-confidence to pursue their dreams. Gus and Bean illustrate a friendship that shows children that anything is possible with creative thinking and support! I hope readers find The Unsinkable Gus Davis to be a fun and playful book that introduces a (sometimes) scary topic in a non-scary way
Question: What are some other ways parents can continue to discuss water safety with their kids?
Davis: Most importantly, enroll children in swimming lessons. Swimming instructors are wonderful role models for new swimmers and will discuss water safety rules with children at each lesson. Parents can visit a library and read stories like The Unsinkable Gus Davis, watch age-appropriate videos, or visit websites with water safety activities. Establishing pool and beach rules is a good way to ensure kids are aware of what is expected by the water. Keep rules short and memorable so they can retain and recall them and take the time to talk about them before each trip to the pool or beach. Kids can get caught up in the fun and forget safety guidelines, so make sure you talk about them often to make sure they become second nature. If you’re on vacation near the ocean, consider visiting a Coast Guard station for a tour and stop by the Beach Patrol office to ask a lifeguard to talk with the kids about open water safety and the various ways lifeguards keep swimmers safe. 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.
Question: What is your favorite summer memory from your own childhood?
Davis: Growing up near the ocean was one of the greatest gifts of my childhood. I have so many favorite memories, that it’s hard to pick one! One of my favorites was when my parents would take us crabbing off the pier in Seaside where we would catch bushels of blue claw crabs. When we got home my mother would prepare a pot of water to cook them—but first, she would accidentally drop a few of the crabs on the kitchen floor! The crabs would scurry around the kitchen, claws poised to pinch if we got too close. It was pandemonium! We would hop around the kitchen screaming and laughing until one of us, usually my brother, was brave enough to pick them up and toss them in the pot! My mom knew exactly what she was doing—she was a master craftsman of controlled chaos and meaningful memories.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laurie Trumble Davis is a book lover who lives in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, with her family. For more than 20 years, Laurie has enjoyed summers on Cape Cod, at Schoolhouse Pond, where Gus (her family’s French bulldog) believed he was the best swimmer on the pond. And he was … especially when wearing his life jacket! Although this is her debut picture book, Laurie is no stranger to the world of books and bookselling. She has worked for Barnes & Noble coordinating author appearances in New England. She has also done publicity and promotions in news media. In her free time, Laurie enjoys snickerdoodle iced coffee (cream, no sugar) and taking her puppy, Odin on adventures.
Connect with Laurie on Instagram @laurietrumbledavis and learn more at laurietrumbledavis.com.