Sloop the Seagull – The seagull who was scared of the sea!
I’m Ruth Cooper; I’m 32 and live in Sheffield with my fiancé, Martin and our 2 year old daughter Florence. I am a full-time Mum. In 2014 I self published my first children’s picture book called Sloop the Seagull who was Scared of the Sea. My Mum, Julie, is the illustrator and lives in Rotherham with her husband, Paul and two dogs, Beau and Amos.
For as long as I can remember our favourite place has been by the sea and for me the love for it started as a child. I adored our family holidays camping and caravanning, in places such as Whitby right down to Lands End. Everything from the sounds to the smells of the coast captivated me! When I first visited Woolacombe and Mortehoe with my friend, Jackie, we had spent several long hours on a coach and had no idea what to expect. We needn’t have worried though – we were blown away! It was a beautiful warm morning and the scenery was stunning as the taxi drove in – from then I was just excited. My parents had been trying to get me to go for years as they have an equal love for it. I have now been visiting for about 8 years; Martin and I had our first holiday together there, Flo her first Holiday ever and we recently booked our wedding at the Watersmeet Hotel! It’s magical, from the quaintness of Mortehoe, right down to the surfy vibe in Woolacombe. I’ve enjoyed walking over the cliff tops to Lee and where possible climbing back over the rocks feeling like an adventurous dare-devil. Learning to surf was exhilarating – I can just about stand up now! Martin and I would reward ourselves afterwards with chips and a cold drink from one of the vans on the beach before burning it off with a run down the sand dunes. I love how it is full of wildlife and seal spotting from Morte Point has to be one of the most rewarding and relaxing pass times ever. I have several favourite views; one of them has to be when I am in the sea looking back at the beaches and rolling hills, the village and the buildings dotted around. The views over towards Lundy Island are really something very special.
When I write I need to be inspired and this fuels my imagination! I feel like I’m in a hidden gem. Everybody has a place in the world where they feel immediately at home, for whatever space of time and this is mine. When I write children’s stories, they all tend to be coastal related and generally involve animals in some way or another. I like to watch the seagulls flying around together in their own world, I would wonder what they were doing and the adventures they were having, so I started to write these ideas down – with recent stays in Woolacombe and Mortehoe, I was really inspired – it was there that Sloop the Seagull was born; I wondered what it would be like if the hut at the top of Barricane beach was a school for sea birds and the idea took off from there. It is the first thing I have written where I wondered if I could actually do something with it, normally writing is just a hobby and publishing a book a dream. But, with much research and hard work – we did it. Sloop the Seagull who was Scared of the Sea is a children’s picture book aimed at children aged 3 – 6, however it is still much enjoyed by children older and younger. It is about a little seagull called Sloop: ‘Sloop has always been scared of the sea. While he and his best friend Breeze are playing a game, a big storm arrives and Sloop vanished into a dark cloud above the sea. Can Sloop be brave enough to help find her?’
When I showed Mum the first draft we quickly put our heads together to create the image of Sloop and the other characters. Having similar ideas made it easy to work together; we bounced ideas off each other for the story and the illustrations. The books Mum read to me as a child by authors like Shirley Hughes and Jill Murphy heavily influenced the writing style and illustrations of Sloop. Places like Woolacombe and Morthoe are like those story books; they are safe and timeless and you could lose yourself in the world of the story or place. I hope that being set at the seaside and talking about holidays, days at the beach, school and friends that it will have something that its readers will be able to relate to. It has been a really good experience to work with my Mum on such a project, we will always be able to say, look what we did! Sloop has become very special to us both and it is lovely to see him go from strength to strength.
We would really like to thank Woolacombe and Mortehoe Voice as well as Woolacombe Tourist Information Centre for their part in helping him to fly. It is a really exciting project. Sloop the Seagull is currently available to buy at Woolacombe Tourist information Centre. You can also order your copy or find out more about Sloop by visiting his social media pages or emailing me: