New from Tinkertuck Books!

  Little Tommy Tinkertuck

  Went Riding on a Bunny

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Little Tommy Tinkertuck, went riding on a bunny

Little Tommy Tinkertuck, thought that it was funny

He rode the bunny up a tree, to watch the bees make honey

Little Tommy Tinkertuck got stung!  And that’s not funny

 

He rode the bunny ‘round and ‘round, with teardrops in his eyes

Bending down he said to Bunny, what a bad surprise

Little Tommy Tinkertuck, wanted to have fun

Tommy started wondering, how fast could Bunny run?

 

He imagined rough tough cowboys, riding on the range

And right there in his little hands, appeared a set of reins

As quick as he could blink an eye, Bunny started running

Through the fields and over hills, running running running!

 

They bounded over Wooly Creek, and Caterpillar Bridge

“Whoa!” hollered Little Tommy.  “We must slow down a nidge!”

But Bunny was not slowing down, he ran faster still

They zipped right past the old schoolhouse, and slid down Grassy Hill

 

It was frantic and funny and scary, thrilling and chilling and more

But Tommy knew the danger ahead, he’d heard of it before

He pulled the reins to slow him down, but Bunny could not stop

They slid right into Foggy Swamp, and landed with a plop 

 

Yuckety muckety muckety mud, Tommy and Bunny got stuck!

Stuck like glue down in that bog, by gobs of muddy muck

But Tommy had a great idea, a secret that he knew

Bunny friend was more than cute, for he was ticklish too

 

He scritched and scratched and tickled Bunny, then he tickled more

He tickled like no tickling tickler, had ever tickled before

This was much too much for Bunny, it made him squirm and jiggle

He did the Bunny bongo hop, he did the Bunny wiggle

 

Like a cowboy riding bronco, Tommy held on tight

Splitter splatter went the mud, such a messy sight!

But the super Bunny kicking, and bouncy Bunny hopping

Got them out from  Foggy Swamp, and all that sticky plopping

 

Two friends all covered in swampy mud, it was too much adventure

What they needed was cleansing rain, a Bunny washing drencher

That’s when Little Tommy saw, the sun was not so bright

Rainy looking clouds rolled in, it rained an awful fright

 

It rained so hard it rinsed the mud, out of their clothes and fur

They were as wet as wet could get, that’s how wet they were

But now they were cold and far from home, Tommy and Bunny alone

Might this be the special time, to try his wishing stone?

 

A wishing stone his grandpa said, could make a wish come true

But only if the wish was good, and honest through and through

Round and flat and low in the middle, it fit right in his hand

If you rubbed it with your thumb, your wish was its command

 

He rubbed the stone and wished for home, wishing very hard

When he opened up his eyes, he was in his yard

What a big imagination, for such a little boy

Tommy Tinkertuck knew Bunny, was just a cute plush toy!

There is a heartwarming back story to the creation of Little Tommy Tinkertuck, the main character in my recently published picture book Little Tommy Tinkertuck Went Riding on a Bunny, and I would like to tell it. It’s a wonderful tale about one of the true joys of parenting, the bedtime story. It begins in 1992, when my daughter was a picture book loving toddler. To set the stage, her mother and I were both avid readers, once selling over 800 paperbacks at a tag sale at ten for a dollar just to make room for more books.

 

We began reading to her almost from the day she was born, knowing full well she could not understand what we were saying, but she liked the pictures and clearly knew that something very special was happening. We were animated readers, putting wonderment and surprise into every line as portrayed in the story. We pointed out objects in the illustrations as the pages turned and tried to use voices that matched the faces and expressions of the characters. Whatever seemed right to convey the amusement, lessons, sadness, exhilaration, love, laughter, whatever was on that evening’s menu.

 

By the time she was two, this had evolved into a fun little ritual for each night’s bedtime story, a privilege that over time became mine and mine alone. Her mom sometimes would tease me that I was the favorite, though we both knew that wasn’t the case at all. It was true for bedtime stories though, (and playing in the mud) and for those I am ever grateful.

 

The routine was that I became the ‘story horse’ and she was my rider. Mommy would get her into a clean diaper and her onesie footed pajamas and she would run out to the living room and hop up onto my lap. (I changed tons of diapers, there were no favorites in that department!) We would chat for a bit and then I would ask if she was ready to pick out a bedtime story. (she had to answer yes) I would get on my hands and knees by the couch and she would climb onto the story horse and ride over to her brightly colored bookshelves.

 

They were crammed with wonderful stories, fairy tales, Disney tales, fables, Little Golden Books and more. Just a great selection of mostly illustrated narratives by many of the best children’s writers to ever grace our childhoods. Generations worth, some going back to my own childhood, my parents childhoods and some even further, as far as the nineteenth century in one or two cases. Beatrix Potter comes to mind and her lovable incorrigible character Peter Rabbit. Some were quite new too, but all hand picked for some endearing quality or other.

 

The story horse would arrive at her bookshelves and she would climb down, make her selection and climb up onto my back again for the ride back to the couch and that night’s bedtime story. Sometimes the story horse would snort or whinny or even buck a little or run. No telling what that horse might do! We both enjoyed it immensely and it couldn’t be bedtime without the ride.

 

One night when she was about four years old and I asked if she was ready to ride over and pick out a book she exclaimed, rather forcefully, “I don’t want you to read me a story tonight!” I said “WHAT?” I was taken aback to put it mildly, this just could not be. Her instant reply was “I want you to make one up!”

 

Wow, I know a challenge when it is thrust upon me and this felt like one for the ages. As I said “Okay!” my mind was already racing to put something together both clever and funny with some sort of drama that would really spark her imagination. It had to have humor too, that was just a given in our household. This needed to be really good, and had to live up to this challenge that would have her miss the story horse and change our regular nightly protocol. That and perhaps the fact that she was growing up right before my eyes. I felt it even then and wanted to enjoy every moment of her childhood to the fullest.

 

The creative part of my mind worked quickly and a character came right to me. A name, a memorable fictional boy’s name.  Little Tommy Tinkertuck. A wonderful name I thought, and as quickly as I said it I was inspired with more and was composing the first line right there on the spot, saying it aloud at the same time. It came to me that quickly and I recited the entire first verse without missing a beat, as if it had already been written. It still feels that way too, like it was already written. It feels as if the story was always there and all I did was pluck the words from the ether. I didn’t have to write it, all I had to do was get it down on paper, for it was there, in the ether, patiently waiting for me.

 

Little Tommy Tinkertuck, went riding on a bunny
Little Tommy Tinkertuck, thought that it was funny
He rode the bunny up a tree, to watch the bees make honey
Little Tommy Tinkertuck got stung! And that’s not funny…

 

When I said “that’s not funny” she let out an emphatic NOOOOO!!! and we laughed and laughed and laughed. All three of us laughed as Mommy was sitting just a few feet away listening to the whole thing. She had me recite it again and again, probably half a dozen times or more, each to gales of laughter. She loved it and didn’t want a single thing added to or subtracted from it, and there it remained for several years, recited often. My writing at the time however, was focused on short stories and poetry, including songwriting. Children’s books hadn’t really entered the picture yet.

 

Tommy was in my head though, and by a verse here and a verse there the rest of the story came to me, unbidden out of the ether, and I finished it over time as the magic would happen. And then another and yet another Tommy Tinkertuck story came and ideas for several more, all in rhyming verse. They have been great fun to write and the potential exists for many more, and I know they are out there in the ether, patiently waiting for me to find them. I never chose to write children’s books per se', children's books chose me. And I think now is the time to get this first one out there in actual picture book form and see how other kids like it. The response from readers has been very positive and I think Tommy Tinkertuck can bring a lot of joy to a lot of children, and of course there are life lessons woven into the stories throughout. Good drama requires it, even for our youngest readers. Especially for them in fact.

 

That’s all for now, if you enjoyed it, please feel free to share it with others who might also like this short memoir. Contrary to popular opinion, self published books do not sell themselves. It is a long and arduous process to get the word out. Thank you for your time!

 

Wayne Van Coughnett, author of Little Tommy Tinkertuck Went Riding on a Bunny