Queen of Seagulls

Renata isn’t exactly the neighbour of your dreams. She complains about everyone in the neighbourhood, she hates music – and she steals food that’s been left out for the birds! But there’s more to Renata than her strange behaviour. What are the seagulls trying to tell her? And what does the accordionist’s mysterious song really mean for Renata and her memory? Rūta Briede’s comic contemporary fable is the story of a woman who doesn’t really know who she is, and of how she remembers with the help of her friends…who just so happen to have wings.

Renata is a complex character within the narrative; grumpy and antisocial, she seems an off-putting protagonist at first. But Briede’s skill as a storyteller and illustrator allows her to develop and blossom as she comes closer and closer to remembering who she really is. Her blossoming relationship with Ludwig, her musician neighbour is delicately handled and provides the emotional heart of a tale that can seem overly strange and abstract at times.

Briede’s laconic, economical style of illustration supports the tone of this modern-day fable; the Indian ink drawings bring just enough colour and vibrancy to the story without overwhelming its simple message.

Direct and refreshingly ironic, this is an unusual book for both children and adults alike, about love, friendship, memory, and the joy of finding one’s place in the world. This is a delightfully strange picturebook and a rare thing; a contemporary fable with heart and humour, accessible to both children and adult readers.