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Children’s Books by Don Carter


After the pencil sketches are approved by the publisher’s art director and editor, I cut the shapes out of foam board and create several layers to give the scene some dimension… although it is still relatively flat. The foam board is then coated with spackling (drywall compound actually!) to give it a clay-like texture. It is then gessoed and painted with acrylic paints. Sometimes I will add other small dimensional items to give the piece a touch of reality…everything from Cheerios to bird seed. Once the illustrations are complete, they are lit and photographed to create the final images for the books.

Don’s books are available at Spectrum Gallery and also online here:

About Smeagull the Seagull, A True Story

Smeagull the Seagull as the title implies is the true story of a wild herring gull. Smeagull comes to the house near the shore every day and knocks on the sliding glass door. He knocks when he’s hungry, and the people who live there feed him. Smeagull rules the roost! Keeping up with him is an exhausting job, but when Smeagull disappears, it makes clear what an important family member Smeagull has become.  

There are few places on earth without gulls, both on shore and inland, and this makes them the perfect avatar for the Natural World. They are ubiquitous, voluble, intelligent and wild and they readily get to know human beings as individual people. Smeagull the Seagull leads children to pay attention to gulls and come to know and like and become attached to them. The book teaches a child, in a most personal way, that animals are precious and have needs and feelings, and family, just like us. It is a good and moral story intended to jump-start the next generation of conservationists. And it moves adults as much as children.

Equally important, Smeagull the Seagull has become the Official Mascot for the Friends of Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge, which is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stretches over 70 miles of the Connecticut coastline. Rangers and staff have gone so far as to begin referring to Smeagull the Seagull as the “Smoky the Bear” for US coastal habitat within the National Wildlife Refuge system.  This is what we hoped for, and in many ways, more than what we hoped for.  As part of this joint project, Mark and I have written and designed Smeagull the Seagull’s Guide to Wildlife. The Guide is internet based and is a beginner’s guide. It is unique in that it is intended as a non-intimidating yet highly informative point of entry for people with absolutely no prior wildlife or natural environment knowledge or experience. That readership, in our moment in history, is the vast majority of people and we literally lead them into the natural world in a direct and accessible way. 

What people are saying about the book:

“Smeagull the Seagull is the ‘total package’ – a lovely story, with a great message and fantastic illustrations. It should be on every child’s nightstand.” – Feathered Quill Book Review

“A children’s book that is a love story with widespread appeal… a story you will read again and again, and one you will never forget.” – Ink Magazine

“When stores are based on real events, it always adds something special. Written in rhyme  with an almost Dr. Seuss feeling and gorgeous illustrations make this book a must have.” – kidsbookguru, Instagram review


1st Place Reader Views 2018/2019 Children Preschool to Age 5

1st Place Feathered Quill 2018/2019 Be Kind to Animals Award

Finalist Foreword Reviews 2018 Picture Book Early Reader

Smeagull the Seagull is available at Spectrum Gallery and also online here.