Margaret Wild’s lyrical language gives this story about friends and family a sense of depth. Tanglewood was the only tree on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere. Vivienne Goodman, the illustrator, initially situates this tree in a small frame in the middle of a greyish page, heightening the sense of aloneness. Her artwork is photo-realistic and here evokes strong emotions. Tanglewood calls to the seals, birds and dolphins to come for a visit, but ‘nobody ever came.’ The sense of loneliness is captured by Goodman’s double page of empty blue sky but for a small white cloud. Tanglewood no longer wishes to live and wonders, ‘Is it possible to die of loneliness?’ A warm and satisfying moment arrives when a fierce storm drives a seagull to shelter in Tanglewood who invites the seagull to stay. This cannot be as Seagull must join his family, which he describes as ‘love and friendship.’ Tanglewood wishes the Seagull a safe journey. The Seagull promises to return, and Tanglewood lives in hope.
Spring, summer, autumn and winter pass, captured in a striking double page spread featuring 15 evocative paintings. Each shows different weather patterns along with day and night-time scenes. Time stands still while each panel is studied. There are scenes of calm and turbulent oceans, as well as stormy and clear skies over the progression of time. Then, a dramatic turn to this story as the next page reveals an intensely blue sky, full of soaring seagulls led by the Seagull, who has a satisfying message for Tanglewood: ‘We bring you family.’ The seagull also bears the gift of life in the form of seeds.
The artwork offers life to both Tanglewood and the text. A sense of family, hope and caring are rewarding emotions for young readers to experience and share through both words and art. Endpapers offer a map to visualise sea creatures, both real and imaginative, along with various objects associated with the sea.