by Roger Zotti
Sgott MacKenize, writer and illustrator of “The Giant Squid and the Seagull,” says he aimed his book “at kids about four years old” and hopes “it instills in them the belief that they should be brave about following their dreams.” Sgott’s captivating book is available at the Golden Street Gallery, 94 Golden Street, and The Bean & Leaf, 13 Williams Street, New London.
Sgott, who has worked with Greg Bowerman at the Gallery for seven years, explained why he wrote his book: “We have yearly shows at the Gallery and Greg told me he was going to write a book for the upcoming show about a dream he had. He was going to show some of the art work from the book.”
“Then he asked me, ‘What are you going to do?’ I told him I’d write a book, too. Mine just happened to be about following your dreams as well. You could say we had a dream series going. My book took me six weeks to finish.”
There are several lessons Sgott would like readers take from “The Giant Squid and the Seagull.” “One is to de-vilify some elements about giant squids,” he says. Specifically, giant squids have a beak and tentacles, but in Sgott’s enchanting drawings they aren’t frightening. “There’s one where the seagull is trapped inside the fish bowl with only the beak. But it’s a happy drawing and one of the book’s two-page picture spreads. I wanted kids to learn about that part of the squid and not be scared of it.”
Sgott’s tentacle illustrations are drawn in a non-menacing way, too. Consider the drawing is near the end of the book and notice how gently the giant squid’s tentacles are holding the seagull. That’s when the giant squid tells the seagull, “I am so glad that dreams inspired us. Being brave enough to follow our dreams has made our lives more interesting and fun.” The seagull replies, “Dreams led us on these great adventures and helped us become best friends.”
As an artist and musician Sgott says his work, “has often landed in realms that aren’t easily accessible to the masses. This book is a departure and more readily accessible to the masses – and it was also me taking on a challenge I hoped to do but didn’t know was in my realm, and then to follow through and have a book in your hands was, well, amazing.”
Born in Detroit and now living in New London, Sgott envisions “The Giant Squid and the Seagull” as a series, but he intends to bring in other characters and “at the same time stick with the seagull and the giant squid as the main characters. But I’m not trying to move onto the next book until I get this book to where it should go – to a publisher [because] self-publishing is very expensive.”