Review Blog

Sep 21 2015

Seagull by Danny Snell

cover image

Working Title Press, 2015. ISBN 9781921504815
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Environment, Marine animals, Rubbish, Pollution. When Seagull's legs become entwined in an old discarded fishing line on the shore, she can no longer do the things she loves: soaring in the blue sky above and floating in the strong winds, hovering over the beach. Children will be dismayed at her plight and hope, as I did, that she finds some relief from her predicament as they turn the pages.
She attempts to disentangle herself, but finds it is stuck fast. As she moves over the sand the line catches on other pieces of rubbish left on the beach and her burden increases. She asks other animals along the shore for help, and each; a mullet, crab and pelican only succeed in loosening the attachment. Worn out she settles down into the sand to rest and a boy comes along to help her.
This is a wonderful allegory for our misuse of our environment and the story will intrigue readers making them both aware of the dangers lurking on the beach for animals and encourage them to take some responsibility for the rubbish left around. Involvement in the plight of Seagull is instantaneous as the gentle words pull the readers into her story, the illustrations reflecting her position. Snell gives us a seagull with character, her eye peering out at the reader on the cover, then looking more and more worried as the story proceeds. The background of the small sand dunes, dotted with tussocks contrasts vividly with the scattering of rubbish left behind by human activity, and children will love noting the different things Snell includes. I love the endpapers with their small clutter of rubbish, the tyre covered in bird poo, the depiction of the seagull as she tries to extricate the burden on her legs.
This is a wonderful picture book, full of meaning, impelling lots of discussion between children, in classrooms and at home, encouraging a closer look at the rubbish thrown away by our society and the impact it has on the animals we see every day.
Fran Knight

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