In honor of Allison’s Book Bag being five years old this year, I’m taking this week to repost my most popular reviews over the past five years. From 2010, there is….
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. For example, 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. Finally, when is the last time I have read a book that isn’t 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. In addition, the tale 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.
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 alcoholic. 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 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, and to not EAT it, and when the time is right to teach her baby to fly…. For the rest of the story, check out The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught her 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. 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 both Zobra and Lucky, the latter who initially sees herself as a cat. If you can ignore the few flaws of the book, The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught her to Fly 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?