The Seagull and the Sea Captain Reviews

by Sy Montgomery (Author), Amy Schimler-Safford (Illustrator)
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (March 1, 2022)
ISBN: 1534482245

The Seagull and the Sea Captain

“One day in Gloucester, Massachusetts, a sea captain guided his schooner out of the harbor. His passengers wanted to see the sights: mansions, buoys, lighthouses, and whales. Seagulls flew into the air, also taking in the sights: people eating, fishermen hauling in their nets, and the beautiful schooner. Suddenly, a gull with five toes (one was missing) landed behind the captain, who tossed him an oyster cracker. Afterwards, the gull returned daily to visit the captain and share a snack. That autumn, the bird flew south, but in spring, he returned and joined the captain on his daily voyages. Weather permitting, he still does. Montgomery, author of the Sibert Award–winning Kakapo Rescue (2010) offers a well-structured narrative underscoring the link between people and animals through the similarity of their activities and the repeated line, ‘Everything’s more fun with a friend.’ Illustrated using watercolors, oil paints, oil pastels, collage, and digital elements, the handsome double-page spreads capture the beauty of the sea setting. This pleasing picture book tells the story of a bird who befriended a man.” —Carolyn Phelan, Booklist

Science writer Montgomery begins this real-life story of an unlikely friendship with views of two voyages: a schooner carrying passengers out from Gloucester Harbor, and a group of gulls “riding the wind on their strong, outspread wings.” Vintage-inflected spreads by Schimler-Safford glow with the blues of the sea and the whites of the sails and the gulls’ wings. In a connecting moment, a herring gull with a missing toe spies the schooner and lands next to its captain for a closer look: both think the other is “a sharp dresser.” The captain, who presents as white, feeds the bird an oyster cracker and calls him “Polly Five Toes.” As readers spot both figures on the bay throughout the spreads, the two also learn to recognize one another, forming a lasting bond that leads to a suspenseful sequence in this true story of human-animal companionship. Back matter offers more information about gulls. Ages 4–8.  — Publishers Weekly