The Story of A Seagull and The Cat Who Taught Her To Fly

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Overview

Published in 20 countries, sold over 1 million copies, and the subject of a feature film, THE STORY OF A SEAGULL AND THE CAT WHO TAUGHT HER TO FLY has finally come to the U.S.!

It's migration time and as a mother gull dives into the water to catch a herring she's caught in an oil slick! Thinking of the egg she is about to lay she manages to extract herself and fly to the nearest port.
Exhausted, she lands on a balcony where Zorba the cat is ...

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Overview

Published in 20 countries, sold over 1 million copies, and the subject of a feature film, THE STORY OF A SEAGULL AND THE CAT WHO TAUGHT HER TO FLY has finally come to the U.S.!

It's migration time and as a mother gull dives into the water to catch a herring she's caught in an oil slick! Thinking of the egg she is about to lay she manages to extract herself and fly to the nearest port.
Exhausted, she lands on a balcony where Zorba the cat is sunning himself. Zorba wants to get help, but the gull knows it's too late and she extracts three promises from him: 1) That he won't eat the egg, 2) that he'll take care of the chick until it hatches, and 3) that he'll teach it to fly.
Well the first two are hard enough, but the third one is surely impossible. Isn't it?

A seagull, dying from the effects of an oil spill, entrusts her egg to Zorba the cat, who promises to care for it until her chick hatches, then teach the chick to fly.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Booklist
(September 1, 2003; 0-439-40186-0)

Gr. 3-6. Zorba, a fat black cat, anticipates lazing around while his owner vacations, but his life abruptly changes when a dying, oil-covered seagull lands on his balcony and makes Zorba promise to protect the egg she leaves behind, raise the chick, and teach it to fly. With the help of several quirky feline friends and a human, Zorba accomplishes each task--and discovers the joys of caring for someone other than himself. This graceful balance of humor and heart is an irresistible read. Characters are distinctively drawn and diverse: Lucky the chick who embraces her gifts and her unusual feline family; Einstein the cat who worships the encyclopedia; and, of course, Zorba, courageous and tender. Simple language sensitively conveys the characters and events; and themes embracing respect for the environment, family diversity, and compassion are effectively conveyed both through dramatic episodes and character-driven comedy. Black-and-white illustrations expressively portray the characters and settings, adding another element to an entertaining, thought-provoking story that can sit comfortably alongside books by DicKing-Smith. --Shelle Rosenfeld Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publishers Weekly starred (August 18, 2003; 0-439-40186-0)

"Humans, unfortunately, are unpredictable. Often it's with the best intentions that they cause the greatest damage." So says the wise cat, Colonel, in Sepulveda's charming tale of devotion, courage and the importance of keeping one's word. A man-made disaster indeed gets the story started: a female gull becomes mired in an enormous oil slick and expends all of her remaining energy in a final flight to safety. She lands on the balcony of an apartment building, where she meets the fat black cat Zorba and extracts a threefold promise from him: that he will not eat the egg she is about to lay, that he will look after it and, once it is hatched, that he will teach the fledgling how to fly. Zorba enlists the help of his good and noble friends ("He gave his word of honor, and the word of one cat of the port is the word of all the cats of the port," says Colonel). Each is endearing and distinctive, from the sage but stammering Colonel to the hilariously forthright Secretario to the encyclopedia-consulting Einstein. With shades of the friendship between a spider named Charlotte and a pig named Wilbur, the relationship between Zorba and Lucky (the name the feline gives the baby gull) explores fundamental questions of life and death, and following one's calling. Sepulveda also fills the brief chapters with memorable everyday moments: the busy Italian restaurant that serves the cats around the back (but only with a reservation), the catalogue of wonders cached in the house of Harry, a human friend to the cats. The language throughout, translated by Peden, is a marvel of economy and warmth, and Sheban's delicate charcoal and pastel illustrations heighten the sense of magic (particularly a wordless spread of Lucky taking flight over Hamburg by night). Readers will hope for the further adventures of these two unlikely friends. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Publishers Weekly
"Humans, unfortunately, are unpredictable. Often it's with the best intentions that they cause the greatest damage." So says the wise cat, Colonel, in Sepulveda's charming tale of devotion, courage and the importance of keeping one's word. A man-made disaster indeed gets the story started: a female gull becomes mired in an enormous oil slick and expends all of her remaining energy in a final flight to safety. She lands on the balcony of an apartment building, where she meets the fat black cat Zorba and extracts a threefold promise from him: that he will not eat the egg she is about to lay, that he will look after it and, once it is hatched, that he will teach the fledgling how to fly. Zorba enlists the help of his good and noble friends ("He gave his word of honor, and the word of one cat of the port is the word of all the cats of the port," says Colonel). Each is endearing and distinctive, from the sage but stammering Colonel to the hilariously forthright Secretario to the encyclopedia-consulting Einstein. With shades of the friendship between a spider named Charlotte and a pig named Wilbur, the relationship between Zorba and Lucky (the name the feline gives the baby gull) explores fundamental questions of life and death, and following one's calling. Sepulveda also fills the brief chapters with memorable everyday moments: the busy Italian restaurant that serves the cats around the back (but only with a reservation), the catalogue of wonders cached in the house of Harry, a human friend to the cats. The language throughout, translated by Peden, is a marvel of economy and warmth, and Sheban's delicate charcoal and pastel illustrations heighten the sense of magic (particularly a wordless spread of Lucky taking flight over Hamburg by night). Readers will hope for the further adventures of these two unlikely friends. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Zorba, the cat, is surprised to find an oil covered seagull land on the banister while his owners are away on vacation. He is even more surprised when the gull tells him that she is going to lay an egg. She wants him to promise not to eat the egg, to take care of it until it hatches, and then to teach the gull to fly. Zorba agrees, but he then enlists the help of other port cats to keep these promises. He finds that teaching the gull to fly is the hardest task of all. Several themes resonate throughout the book, including the damage that humans inflict on nature in an effort to advance. The biggest message, however, involves diversity: "[the cats] learned to appreciate and respect and love someone who's different from us. It's very easy to accept and love those who are like us, but to love someone different is very hard, and you have helped us to do that." Lucky, the baby gull, m ust learn to trust cats, and finally the cats must learn to trust a human to help Lucky fly. The black and white illustrations and the use of shadows in the pictures emphasize the secretiveness o f the cats' actions as they attempt to accomplish their goals without humans seeing them. Readers concerned about choosing books appropriate for young children should be aware that the book includes a beer-drinking monkey and a human smoker. 2003, Arthur A. Levine Books, Ages 9 to 12.
—Amanda Eron
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Zorba is a noble, big, black cat from the port of Hamburg who keeps his vow to a dying seagull who was tragically caught in an oil slick. He promises to watch over her egg, not to eat the chick when it hatches, and to teach the baby gull to fly. With the aid of four loyal feline friends, he hatches the egg and the young female that emerges immediately calls him "Mommy." Having fulfilled two of the promises, Zorba and his mates must not only teach her to fly, but also give her the strength to leave those she loves to realize her true nature. Zorba breaks the taboo and speaks to a human poet, who carries the young gull and her beloved foster father to a church tower where Lucky naturally, gracefully takes flight. This intelligent, eloquently translated work examines loyalty, trust, and acceptance of differences. It truthfully displays environmental destruction caused by humans and the animals note that, "Humans, unfortunately, are unpredictable. Often it is with the best intentions that they cause the greatest damage." Zorba's Hamburg is populated with fascinating felines, several of whom have foreign accents and mannerisms. Sheban's soft-focus, black-and-white illustrations capture the action of the text and portray a world where animals must make important, life-changing decisions. Complete with humor and whimsy, this is a book with heart and soul. It will make readers' spirits soar.-Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439401869
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 880L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2004

    A Touching Story

    It is hard to not cry when reading this book. I had the fortune of picking up this enduring tale of a cat who is entrusted with the undertaking of teaching a seagull to fly and more than that who the seagull really is. This story touches at the core of family values, instinct, and love. A wonderful story!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2003

    What a tender story

    Children and adults can learn from this novel that love overcomes any social and racial obstacle. The concept of family is extraordinarily strong, where family is not only who bares you, but who tries to understand and welcome your diversity and tries their best in order to satisfy your needs, getting help also from the whole community.

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