I have the absolute honour of wrapping up the picture book shortlist of the CBA blog tour with Stella and the Seagull by Georgina Stevens and Izzy Burton, published by Oxford Children’s!
Inspiration from Georgina Stevens
The idea for Stella and the Seagull came from my long-held belief that we are far more powerful than many of us realise, in everything we do, and I wanted to bring that to life for young readers.
The parable about the young boy standing on a beach which is covered in 1000s of stranded starfish, who is gently throwing those star fish back into the sea, one by one, was also a source of inspiration. When the boy is approached by an old man who asks him “why are you bothering to throw them back in, there are so many of them, you will never be able to help them all” the boy simply replies “yes, but I helped that” and throws another in. The old man then stands beside him and starts to throw the star fish back into the sea with him. I think this is a beautiful illustration of our collective power, despite the many forces, such as our media, our culture, some companies and governments, who try to make us feel powerless.
I wanted to show how important it is to just do one or more small things, and that they can also be fun and help you meet new people who share your values and your passions. I was also inspired by some of the most beautiful seagulls I have ever seen in Belize a few years ago, when I was writing the book on a volunteer trip. And knowing how badly affected by plastic all our seabirds are, I really wanted to showcase these birds, who are not perhaps always our most treasured species here in the UK!
Stella and the Seagull: five ways to help children learn about the environment
Oxford Children’s have created a reading pack for this title which is available via a link below. Kaelum Neville has kindly created a mini pack of ideas of activities to use alongside Stella and the Seagull!
Georgina Stevens is a writer ‘on a mission to engage people in the beauty and wonder of nature, and the immense power we each hold to make positive change in our world.’ This is certainly the message at the heart of her eco-conscious picture book, Stella and the Seagull, which is currently shortlisted for the FCBG Children’s Book Award in the Younger category.
With our impact on the environment becoming an ever increasing and pressing concern, it’s never too early to teach children about what they can do to help. Today, we’re taking a look at a set of reading notes on Stella and the Seagull, courtesy of Oxford University Press, and pulling out the top five activities that book groups can use to teach children about the importance of being kind to the environment.
Organise a beach clean
Stella’s seagull friend gets poorly because of plastic stuck in its tummy. A lot of litter, especially plastic, gets washed up on our beaches—or dropped there by people visiting the beach. A beach clean is a really good way to help keep the beach clear, and to save sea birds and sea creatures from plastic and other harmful things. If you’re not near a beach, you could organise a clean up of a local park or beauty spot instead.
Write an important letter
This is a great way to demonstrate to children the power of lobbying for change and sharing their opinions. Ask them to inspect the packaging of their favourite sweets, food, toys, even magazines and consider the following:
• Would any of the wrappers be harmful to birds and animals if they ate them?
• Can any of them be recycled?
• If your chocolate bar comes in a wrapper that cannot be recycled, what do you think it could be wrapped in?
• Or is there another way that you could buy it that doesn’t involve the wrapper?
If the children can’t think of a solution, encourage them to write a letter to the manufacturer, just as Stella does, explaining that that if it’s general plastic, their packaging will be around for hundreds of years, causing harm to birds and animals, and polluting the earth and the oceans.Ask them what they can do to stop this from happening.
Write an environmental story. The story of Stella and the Seagull shows us how beautiful the environment is, and how litter can spoil it, and can be harmful to birds and other creatures. Asking children to write their own story about the environment and what they love about is a great way of exploring their understanding of sustainability and what it means to them.
Throw an eco-friendly reading party
Why not enjoy Stella and the Seagull as a group? There are all sorts of interactive, crafty ways to get children involved with this one. By bringing together a bunch of old magazines, newspapers, (clean) plastic bottles and more, you can upcycle them into bunting, party hats, table centers and other decorations – perfect for your reading party!
Make a mosaic
Bottle tops come in all kinds of sizes, colours and textures. Save them up and use them to make an artistic mosaic inspired by Stella and the Seagull. Maybe a seagull made from white bottle tops, a whale made from blue ones or a crab from red. If you have lots of colours, you could even make a whole beach scene!
If you’d like to download the full reading pack, with these and many more activities and notes, you can do so for free from Oxford University Press.
To get involved with voting for the children’s book awards please head to the fcbg.org.uk website for more details! Voting will open soon and ends on 27th May.
To purchase the books, head to https://www.heathbooks.co.uk/federation-of-childrens-book-groups-childrens-book-award/
Do check out the picture book blog tour with @alibrarylady, @Pic_BookPerfect and @Toppsta!