Margaret Lee has used her lifelong interest in art to create a children’s book of stories called The Adventures of Sebastian The Helpful Seagull.
The book contains three stories, each building upon the last. First, Sebastian falls asleep on a boat and wakes to find himself on the other side of the English Channel, in France. After flying around and getting lost, he is directed back to the boat, and home, by the “Pylon People,” a family of anthropomorphized electrical transmission towers.
In the second adventure, an older, more confident Sebastian flies across the Channel to explore France on his own and meets “The Roundabout Knights,” characters based on the statues of knights that decorate certain roundabouts near the town of Falaise. Sebastian helps the knights return to their castle home. Finally, in the third adventure, he aids the heavy statue-knights in finding transportation to visit a different castle that’s being built, far away.
Lee’s stories are simply told, involving elements children might not immediately relate to. Many young readers will be unfamiliar with the transmission towers of France, or the statue knights of Falaise or the castle being built near Guedelon, France. While this is likely to deter some, others may find that this unfamiliarity actually enhances their sense of wonder and discovery.
The book’s artwork utilizes varied techniques. The first adventure features whimsical illustrations that were originally painted and stitched on silk; the second and third adventures are illustrated with watercolor drawings that are much more pedestrian and less effective.
Overall, The Adventures of Sebastian the Helpful Seagull is a mixed bag. Some children may feel that this book is an odd bird that never really takes flight. But those who find themselves drawn to the author’s unusual subject matter and characters will find charm in this story.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.