Allison's Book Bag

The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught her to Fly by Luis Sepulved

Posted on: August 29, 2010

Titles intrigue me. Consider for example: The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught her to Fly. Immediately, the title prompts all kinds of questions: How can a cat teach a seagull to fly? I’d like to know, wouldn’t you? Or when is the last time I have read a book about a seagull? Books abound about dogs and cats, to a lesser extent about mice and rats, but not so much about birds. Among those, when is the last time I have read a book that is not about a lost or stranded animal seeking its owner? The title alone made me read this book.

As for the book, sigh, it reads like a first novel. Some parts worked well; others not so well. The main flaws were the sentimental, sometimes preachy tone, along with an overly large cast of minor characters. There are skinny Secretario, the Colonel, smart Einstein, two more unnamed  alley cats…. and these are just the cats. There’s also a chimp, a gang of rats, and three humans. In a book of just over 100 pages, that’s far too many characters to keep track of. Fortunately, the two main characters, Zobra the cat and Lucky the seagull, are sympathetic characters whom I care enough about to put up with the overwhelming cast ensemble. The tale also engages. How can it not? After all, it’s about the unlikely pairing of a cat and a seagull. As a bonus, there is also a spattering of humor throughout–especially in the second half.

An adult seagull (Larus michahellis)

Image via Wikipedia

Children’s books, especially older ones, often contain morals. Yet the less explicit the author is about the message, the more palatable it is. Unfortunately, some pages of this book read like an educational video–or, worse, a tract. For example, Sepulved teaches that “oil glues to the wings of a bird” thereby immobilizing and eventually killing them. Sepulved also preaches, through the cats, that “it’s with the best intentions that humans cause the greatest damage”. To illustrate, the cats refer to human Harry who knows his chimp is fond of beer. Every time the chimp is thirsty, Harry hands him a beer. Now the chimp is an alchoholic. As for the seagulls, they’re dying because of all the pollution humans put into their oceans. In a way, the message is effective: I must have learned it, because I am paraphrasing it back to you. Yet truly, how many of us fondly remember school videos for any other reason that they represented escape from schoolwork? As for tracts, well, if we even bother to read them, we all know where we toss them in the end.

Yet there is still that title to contend with: How can a cat teach a seagull to fly? For that matter, how do a cat and a seagull even meet? Well, once upon a time, a cat came across a dying seagull who made him promise to watch over her egg, not EAT it, and when the time is right to teach her baby to fly.

Not every page of this book held my attention, but I still recommend the book. Luis Sepulved’s passion for the care of nature sparkles on every page, which is something I commend. One day I hope to integrate such passion for nature into my stories, except with a subtler tone. Moreover, this is a short and sweet tale about honor. Zobra fights alley cats and rats and eventually even breaks a cat taboo–all in an attempt to honor his vow to a dying seagull. I like Zobra! And I like Lucky, who initially sees herself as a cat. If you can ignore the other flaws of the book, their story is worth the read.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate it?

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2 Responses to "The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught her to Fly by Luis Sepulved"

Interesting synopsis. If you’re interested in the seagull theme there is a more light hearted account at http://www.squidoo.com/seagulls-and-why-they-torment-me which details a man’s battle with the Seagull Mafia

Thanks for sharing your post! My husband and I have our cars annually attacked by starlings. Their assault is not even close to your battle however with the Seagull Mafia. Wow! Your poor car. 🙂

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