This is the second installment in the small Holling C. Holling sub-series I'm writing as part of the regular Favorite Book Friday articles. You can find the first installment, featuring Pagoo, here. In that first post you can read a little about who Holling C. Holling is and why I've chosen to concentrate on a few of his works.
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Seabird begins in a whaling ship off the coast of Greenland. As cabin boy, young Ezra Brown is playing lookout in the crow's nest. A summer snowstorm swirls about, and the presence and actions of a lone ivory gull alert Ezra to an iceberg that he otherwise wouldn't have seen through the snow.
Beautiful illustrations abound.
The whaler is saved, and the bird inspires Ezra to carve an ivory gull mascot, using walrus tusks, shells, and stones, for the ship. Thus begins Seabird's existence. The book then chronicles his adventures alongside Ezra, his son, his grandson, and his great-grandson, covering a time period from the 1850s until the age of aviation.
Though Pagoo is my overall favorite Holling C. Holling book because of the way it cleverly and deceptively transfers a lot of scientific knowledge (and I love all the beautiful illustrations of marine life), Seabird is my favorite of Holling's works when it comes to story telling. To learn the origins of a family heirloom and then watch it pass from generation to generation is something sweet to behold. Children may not see the plot that way, but this adult certainly does.
Ezra's son, Nathanial, discussing Seabird's origins with his son, James.
What will likely hold the attention of children is the many daring adventures Seabird faces--hunting and securing a right whale, exploring exotic lands around the world, building a clipper ship, crossing the equator, toughing out storms at sea, rounding Cape Horn, going overboard, watching sailing ships change to those powered by coal and engine, experiencing the advent of huge ocean liners, and soaring in an airplane.
Nathanial (Nate) as a boy.
Life at sea has always been a fascinating topic for children's books (Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, for example), and Seabird capitalizes upon that natural interest.
The book offers more than an exciting tale, though. Where Pagoo sneaks in science, Seabird does the same with history and geography. The nature of the story obviously lends itself to exploring world geography, but it's amazing how much history is packed into a relatively short book. As mentioned, Seabird begins with a whaling expedition. In those first few pages the hows and whys of whaling are discussed, and the sage captain (accurately) predicts that Ezra will see the end of whaling and won't find his future in that nasty business. As the book and time go on, the reader sees how a changing world and changing markets affect the life of a sailor.
Ezra and his great-grandson, Kenneth, on a new ocean liner.
Even though Seabird has the ability to impart far more information beyond what a straight-through reading may offer, my intention for our family so far has only been to use it as a summer read aloud. Should you want to go deeper and gain greater history, geography, and scientific knowledge I sought and found some fabulous free resources to help with that endeavor.
Like Pagoo, Seabird features many educational side diagrams.
Before I share these resources, I want to reiterate something I first wrote in the Pagoo article.
Don't let words the word homeschool in these links deter you. Just because you may not be a full-time homeschooling family, doesn't mean you don't, shouldn't, or can't educate your children at home in addition to the formal instruction they receive outside of it. In fact, you've been teaching them from home since they were born, and you will continue to do so until they leave it (and probably even after)!
Homeschool Share is always a great resource for literature-based free resources (and resources for a host of other subjects and topics). This link for a unit study has ideas for each chapter and free downloadable notebooking pages. It's a gem!
Here is an excellent example of the unit study from Homeschool Share in action. This mom shares how she used the unit study and what she added to it to offer a complete educational experience for her child. Furthermore, she details a really neat art-based project that complements the book.
This is another unit study (24 pages). It's free to download, but you have to register to do so. I didn't preview it, but I've included it here in case any of you want to give it a shot.
Here you can find some general ideas for ways to go deeper into the story. There are also links to other resources like videos, notebooking pages, and activities.
Like DIY Homeschooler above, this site is a treasure trove of free Seabird-based resources. Many of them have already been linked on my site, but this mom provides lots of others like fact sheets, links to relevant videos, and more. This is a useful page whether you're looking to create a full unit study or just want one or two items to enhance your reading of the book.
This site is all about the ocean. It's not a unit study and it doesn't have free printables or downloads. It is simply a cornucopia of sea information. The particular spot I'm linking to deals with ocean currents, density, climate and weather, and storm surges--all topics specifically relatable to Seabird. However, now that I've found this resource, I see other areas that would be good to accompany Pagoo (Plankton: Aquatic Drifters and Aquatic Food Webs).
If you read Seabird, be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments!
If you use any of the links above, I would be thrilled if you sent a pic showing off some of your kiddos work. It is always my goal to indpire other parents and knowing I may have done so would be such an encouragement to me!
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