Steven the seagull is a retired cop. He is persuaded to go back on duty to help his former partner Mac the goldfish solve the mystery of who has been stealing Beach City sand and leaving big holes behind.
Who could be responsible for stealing the sand? Steven sets out to identify the criminal and eliminate the suspects.
An amusing story with jokes to appeal to adults as well as children (A gull’s gotta do what a gull’s gotta do…!). There is lots to talk about in the detailed illustrations and clues to discover as you try to solve the crime together.
Share the story
Read the story
Read the story aloud pausing to talk about what is happening in the story or pictures when your child wants to and perhaps at key points for example when Steven and Mac go off looking for suspects. Who could it be? What might have happened to the sand? What might Steven’s plan be?
Re read the story
As you read the story again children could join in, for example by reading with you the lines in bold at the top of the pages eg ‘Could Lola be a suspect?’ You could encourage children to point to the words as they read. Or they might like to be Steven asking each of the suspects if they stole the sand eg ‘Harry have you been digging these holes?’
Talk about the story
Which is the funniest part of the story or the funniest picture?
Which character did children like most and why?
There are likely to be some unfamiliar words in the story eg renegade, reformed – talk about what they might mean and look them up in a dictionary together, an online version if you don’t have access to a dictionary click here.
Look for clues together in the story and pictures for who might be the sand thief. A magnifying glass would add to the fun.
Dylan (age 6) and I loved reading Steven Seagull. The first time we read it together and Dylan joined in where he could, especially with the bold text. We looked up and talked about the new unfamiliar words. He loved the idea of suspects and criminals and immediately fetched his Lego police boat and began playing. We took it in turns to be detectives and interviewed potential suspects (dad, sister and even the cat!) All came up with suitable alibis. Dylan had a turn at being a suspect too and used an excuse from the story to explain his whereabouts.
The next time we read the story we spent some time looking carefully in all the pictures for clues using a magnifying glass. Dylan was then keen to recreate the scene in the sandpit. This included Claude's sand castle with signs carefully copied from the book, holes in the sand and even finished with 'Steven conquering the castle with a huge SPLASH!' The book is great fun and I'm sure we will revisit it.
Things to make and do
Play the story
Children might enjoy pretending to be detective, with a notebook and magnifying glass to look for clues – do this on the beach or in a sand pit if you can, or if not on an imaginary beach indoors, in a garden or park.
With your child playing the part of Steven you could pretend to be one or more of the suspects and have a conversation (interrogation!), for example:
Steven: Have you been stealing the sand?
Suspect (answering with an alibi) eg ‘No I’ve been too busy….
Write a list
Children could write a list of suspects perhaps with ‘mug shots’ and information about each one.
Make a poster
Use the template to make a wanted poster for Claude von Crabbe
Find out more
Find out how to draw Steven on Elys Dolan’s blog
Read more books by Elys Dolan
Nuts in Space