Marshall begins with Eugene the turtle, who's written a story, reading it to grumpy Carruthers the bear. And Eugene's story begins when a seasick swan gives Marshall's three old friends her rowboat in return for a ride on Emily the pig's motorcycle. And so Carruthers, Emily, and Eugene set off down the river, stopping for tea with famous cookbook author Ambrosia Suet, running into a number of nefarious characters as they row through Skunk County ("Very few Skunk County folks can be trusted," reads the guide book, "for they are profoundly greedy, mean, and hateful"), and stopping off in Stupendousberg where Carruthers is a big hit as replacement for the sick Baby Bear in a Goldilocks production. The return trip nicely ties up all the early encounters that had seemed like throwaway loose ends. And that's about all it takes to fit the wiggy, free-floating charm of Marshall's picture books to a longer come-what-may riverboat jaunt. A restorative tonic for the grumpiest bear.