Read an Excerpt
“Shucks,” grumbled Gordon. “She ate that whole candy bar without leaving a scrap for me.” He pecked his way through the Nutty Crunch wrapper leaving sweet sprinkles in the sand. “Yesterday I munched Star Chomp, but do you think I can find a crumb today? Scram!” squawked Gordon to the other sea gulls who landed near the community trash can. “Got it?”
“Find more fries you don’t want to share?” smirked Wembly as he flew away.
The Atlantic shoreline teemed with sea gulls; Gordon was just one. He spent his days on the beach, watching the waves smack the rocks. Like the rest of the gulls, he soared through the heavens, dipping his wings against the sky. But mostly, like all other gulls, he constantly searched for a bite to eat.
Yet, Gordon stood out from the others. When Wembly and Bertie gull ate ocean insects or a crab leg, Gordon preferred popcorn, potato chips, or a scrap of bread.
While others searched for shrimp, Gordon spied people. He learned that people loved food…especially junk food. Gordon spent his day looking at people in the concession line, people munching a picnic lunch, or people snacking under a beach umbrella. Often a crumb dropped, or a bite fell. But sometimes folks were kind enough to empty the leftovers in their goody bag, if only Gordon waited patiently. He knew just when someone might be frightened by the quick flutter of his wings, and skillfully approached for a nibble. Gordon never squawked rudely or demanded. Yet, he always found a way to get the food he loved, especially French fries!
Where in the world did you get a crazy idea like this? Most of my BIG ideas come from real life, and Gordon was no exception. Having vacationed with my husband and kids for twenty summers along the Atlantic coastline, I kept a journal of some of the strangest things I saw from my balcony, the beach, or a restaurant by the water. From 1980 until 2000, I kept taking notes. Our family playfully dubbed all seagulls “Gordon” and imagined him to be the phantom bird who provided us with hours of beach entertainment by stealing everything from animal crackers to popcorn from our beach bag. It was not until our first grandchild, Addison, arrived that I transformed my journal entry into this childhood tale.
What was your favorite part of creating this story?
Imagination and Voice! Since parts of this story really happened, it was fun to figure out how a seagull might think and talk about humans to other seagulls. At first I wrote the story through my own eyes, then through the eyes of our youngest daughter. Finally I wrote it through Gordon’s eyes telling how he experienced frustration, despair, pleasure, and finally true satisfaction by making the right choice.
I decided to give my BIG idea a lesson. I wanted to tell why and how this experience could be an important learning experience. So I created Gordon on purpose to teach us that we all have choices; they in turn bring consequences. Every time Gordon makes a choice in the book, he either feels good or bad about himself. Just like us, he sees the direction he has headed, but does not seem able to turn around and go the right way, until one painful consequence forces him to look deeply into who he has become. In a nation where childhood obesity has sky-rocketed, it is important to create some obvious lessons on choices. Children can easily relate to Gordon’s innocuous role model by experiencing and feeling the burning pain of wanting to change.
Click here for the lesson plan on Gordon’s choices about learning to eat healthy by eating the colors of the rainbow.
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