Billy and the seagulls ISBN: 9780552551588
Published by Corgi, 2004
Eddie's younger brother Billy is afraid of a lot of things, some of them very strange - earthquakes, snakes, spiders, darkness, toilets flushing, Laurel and Hardy, orange peel, soggy toast, and men with mustaches. He is so frightened he gets the shakes and wails like a siren. When the family, mum and step-dad Dave and the two boys, move to the seaside because of Dave's new job, Billie finds something else to be afraid of: seagulls. This causes great ructions at school when the children's breaktime snacks are outlawed because the gulls scoop down for crumbs. It is Billie who must solve the problem himself - with Dave's help - and Eddie learns to like and respect Dave and accept him as a second father. The whole issue of divorce and how it affects the family is a strong theme, and Billie's fears seem to have started when their father left home. Despite this being an easy-read for newly-confident readers, with largish print and lots of black and white comic drawings, the emotions and needs are truly represented, and it has great sensitivity as well as humour.