What would you say are the “Seven Wonders of Davis”?
Nine-year-old Gavin Pinnow recently set out to determine just that after his class at Birch Lane Elementary School finished reading the book “The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs,” by Betty Birney.
In the book, 12-year-old Eben McAllister reads about the seven wonders of the world, and wishes he could leave tiny Sassafras Springs, Mo., to see them all. His dad, in turn, challenges him to find seven wonders in his own hometown. Within a week, he does.
Gavin’s teacher, Lakshmi Aradhya, wondered aloud before the class started reading the book just how many wonders the class would find if they tried.
Gavin decided to give it a go.
“He came up with this idea on his own and gave himself a deadline,” Aradhya said.
“I gave myself a week because that’s what (McAllister) had in the book,” Gavin explained.
He started brainstorming that very day while walking home from school with his sister Gwen, 6.
They came up with two ideas right off the bat: Rainbow City and Toad Hollow.
He set out to see and learn more about both, as well as to find whatever other wonders might be out there in Davis. During his week of seeking wonders, Gavin was assisted along the way by both Gwen and their cousin Teagan, 9, a student at César Chávez Elementary School, and they walked many miles along the way.
In fact, Aradhya said, “he told me that he walked five miles one day and found three of the wonders.”
One of those wonders, Rainbow City — the large wooden play structure in Community Park — ”was built in four days by the people of Davis,” said Gavin, so that definitely qualified for the list.
Toad Hollow, he noted, involved building a tunnel under Pole Line Road so the toads of Davis could safely cross the street.
“They even built a resort for the toads at one end,” he noted. Definitely wonderful.
A trip to his neighborhood park, Slide Hill Park, turned up two more: the big concrete slide and ”Tidal Play,” the dolphin statues set in a sandy tidal pool, which Gavin explained, “were built in memory of Rosina Nan Franck by her friends and family and are dedicated to the children of Davis.”
After a couple of days of walking and seeking wonders, he took a day off.
Back on the hunt the next day, he noticed a small neighborhood wonder: three sculptures in the front of a house on Loyola Drive — a dinosaur, ostrich and a sea serpent.
That made the cut, Gavin said, just because none of the other houses in the area had anything like it.
The last two wonders, one big and one somewhat smaller, came to him at the end of the week: UC Davis and the Flying Carousel of the Delta Breeze in Central Park.
Why UC Davis?
“Well, it’s not like every town in the world has a university,” Gavin noted. Plus, he said, “it’s a great university, and it’s just kind of special.”
As for the carousel, “it’s kind of a regular carousel, except all of the animals were made especially for it, and you have to pedal it.”
The carousel also was featured in an issue of Via magazine a few years ago, he noted.
As his self-imposed deadline approached, Gavin spent the last evening staying up late to type up his report on the Seven Wonders of Davis.
In the next week, he would read his report to his classmates, Principal Kathy Tyzzer and teacher librarian Lynne Sundstrom. Most thought his efforts were pretty wonderful.
“I think he did a great job,” Aradhya said.
For his part, Gavin said, “I just wanted to do it. I thought it was a really fun thing to do.”
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8051.