Book Reviews

Reviewed by Marshall Cutchin, Midcurrent.com, January 30 2008

Fly Fishing Books: Kirk Werner’s New Olive Series for Kids

They’re delightful, they’re entertaining, and they contain an important message for kids: respect our resources. Kirk Werner’s two new books arrived in the mail last week and…

…we were simply amazed by the talent they display. Not only are the books — Olive, The Little Woolly Bugger, and Olive and the Big Stream (both around 40 pages and published by Swimming Kangaroo Books) — beautifully illustrated and written, they show great imagination and real knack for storytelling. [EXPAND More]

MidCurrent’s own crack team of children’s book critics began reviewing the books last Thursday night. Their balanced opinion (one is a 7-year-old boy, the other a 5-year-old girl) is that the books are “the best.” Of course we didn’t let the reviewers get away with such a simple critique, and when pressed both mentioned the “great story” and repeated several examples of engaging plot twists. But perhaps the most telling praise of all was an eagerness to return to the task on subsequent evenings, and even a willingness to forgo Spongebob.

If you have or know children of reading age who like a good book, we highly recommend Mr. Werner’s new titles. Not only the books great reads, their sales will result in a contribution to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital via Hooked On a Cure.

You can purchase both books through the Olive Web site (where you can also find some pretty cool t-shirts).” [/EXPAND]

Reviewed by MyShelf.com, February 2008

Olive the Little Woolly Bugger

“Author / illustrator Kirk Werner loves fly fishing, so it’s no wonder he wrote and illustrated two picture books for children about the sport. Olive The Little Woolly Bugger is the first of those books. It tells the story of…

…an artificial lure, or fly, called a woolly bugger that is used in fly fishing. The lure, named Olive, goes to summer camp to learn about fly fishing and how to be a great fishing fly. There she meets a lot of different flies that all have different abilities. She also meets the snooty, brightly-colored, dry flies who think they are better than the more plain flies like Olive. Not only does Olive have to pass all sorts of tests to graduate, but she also hopes to have a chance to be selected to be in the Big Fly Box.[EXPAND More]

Readers feel Olive’s nervousness as she struggles through her tests. We also feel bad for her when she is teased, but smile when she finds friends in some of the other flies. We also cheer when Olive triumphs.

The story is a delight and clearly explains what fishing flies are and how they are used for different kinds of fishing. The illustrations are amusing while capturing the personalities of the different flies.

Werner is commended for creating a great book for children to learn about fly fishing. I learned a lot and I know young fisherpeople will also. Readers should note that the Foreward in Werner’s book is by young Tyler Befus, a nine-year-old junior fly fishing champion who has written a book about the sport himself. Also, Werner adds a page of photographs in the back of the book to show children what the real fishing flies look like and what they are called.

Olive The Little Woolly Bugger is a fun story with great illustrations.

Olive and The Big Stream

In Olive and the Big Stream, the companion to Kirk Werner’s first picture book about Olive the woolly bugger, a fly fishing lure, readers find Olive in the Big Fly Box out on the banks of the Big Stream just after dawn. As the day progresses, each of the flies…

…are taken out one by one and tied onto the leader and tested in the water. When no fish are to be had, each fly is put back into the box and another is taken out. The big, flashy dry flies who have been boasting about being the first to catch a fish are tried out first, but they soon are retired for the smaller, wet flies. Finally, only Olive remains untested in the box. Then, she is taken out for her trial, and readers thrill at her success in hooking a trout. As in the first book, Olive the Wooly Bugger, Werner teaches children about the sport of fly fishing. He also teaches that it isn’t always the flashiest one in the box which succeeds. Often, it’s the quiet one who perseveres.

In the back of this book, as in the first one, Werner offers a series of photographs to show children what the real fishing flies look like and what they are called. In addition, Werner adds a Foreward by Tyler Befus, a nine-year-old junior fly fishing champion who has also written a book about the sport.

Olive and the Big Stream is a fun story with beautiful illustrations which come from a very talented artist.”[/EXPAND]

Reviewed by Native Fish Society, December 2007

“It was with great interest that I read Kirk Werner’s new children’s books Olive The Little Woolly Bugger and Olive and The Big Stream, mainly because getting young people interested in the future of wild fish…

…is one of the most significant ways to sustain our mission. It is certainly refreshing to see that there is a concerted effort out there to incite an interest in conservation for young people. After all, the “Future” in our motto refers to our children and all the generations to follow.[EXPAND More]

Giving children a colorful and fun story that they can relate to is one of the best ways to begin appreciation for the environment.With the Olive stories, Werner takes that appreciation a step further by drawing children into the world of fly-fishing with characters they can relate to, pictures that are fun and a story where lessons are learned without being preachy or pedantic.

“Fly fishing is an adventure” says 9-year old Tyler Befus in his Foreword to these colorfully illustrated stories, and Werner takes on Olive’s adventures from a child’s point of view. Olive’s journey begins as she makes her way to Camp Tightloops where she is to learn how to catch fish. Feeling somewhat drab compared to the dry flies, who think they’re better than everyone else, Olive joins the class feeling like an outcast. With determination and the guidance of a sympathetic teacher named Mr. Muddler Minnow, Olive soon enjoys her lessons and goes home only to dream of floating on the Big Stream with lots of big trout jumping and munching on flies. Along the way, Olive learns about the different types of flies, equipment and what ‘presentation’ means. Olive’s ultimate goal is to gain a place in the Fly Box, and after setbacks, disappointments and diligence, she not only gets a place in the Fly Box, but also has an adventure on the Big Stream.

Werner supplies plenty of fly-fishing vocabulary and techniques to Olive and her readers, but always with joy and wonder. By presenting Olive’s lessons in a visually charming manner and easy-to-understand language, Werner latches onto children’s imaginations, and carries them into a new and exciting world. Both parents and children will enjoy these books and it will not be surprising if your kids come up to you in the morning and tell you that “Last night I dreamt that I was on the Big Stream with Olive.”[/EXPAND]

Reviewed by John R. Clark, TCM Reviews, July 15, 2008

Olive the Little Woolly Bugger

“Kirk Werner has found a niche in juvenile literature and filled nicely. Olive is the story of a youngster who happens to be a wet fly on her way to Camp Tightloops. She very much wants to be gorgeous like the dry flies who are at camp, but… [EXPAND More]

…they only have contempt for her dowdy color and pattern when compared to their colorful designs. As in any good story for kids, there is a moral; persevere and you will succeed.

What the author does, however, goes well beyond telling a simple tale with a moral. He takes the concept of catch and release fly fishing and turns it into a story that children and parents/grandparents will enjoy reading together. The illustrations are beautiful and will engage youngsters in the story. Werner gets his message about the joy of catching fish and releasing them so they can be caught again by others across very well. He also has a page of photographs of real wet and dry flies mentioned in the story at the back of the book, so young readers can see what the main characters look like in real life.

This is an excellent book for libraries in areas where fishing is popular as well as for families who love the outdoors and doing things together.”[/EXPAND]

Olive and The Big Stream

“Olive and the Big Stream picks up the story where its predecessor, Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, left off and is equally well done. This time, Olive has graduated from Camp Tightloops and sits in the fly box with fellow graduate Gilbert the Gold-Ribbed Hair’s Ear, eagerly awaiting the real deal; a trip to catch fish in the Big Stream. [EXPAND More] Author Kirk Werner does a great job of describing the fisherman trying fly after fly from their point of view, especially when Olive goes last and attracts the big trout.As with the first book, children and parents/grandparents who love fishing or the outdoors will thoroughly enjoy both the story and illustrations and gain even more appreciation for catch and release fishing.

This book will be a great addition to public libraries as well as a gift for children with active imaginations or inquiring minds.”[/EXPAND]

Reviewed by Larry Clark, Washington State Magazine, Winter, 2009

Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, Olive & The Big Stream and Olive Goes for a Wild Ride

“Flyfishing– a sport and an art practiced for centuries–fascinates me with its smooth casts and rhythm, but I had never connected flyfishing with kids. At least not until Olive the Woolly Bugger, a cartoon “streamer” fly starring in a series of three books that introduce flyfishing to children. …[EXPAND More]Playing off goofy fly names–like zonker, yellow sally, and gold-ribbed hare’s ear–author and angler Kirk Werner (’85 Comm.) creates a world of flies-in-training whose only goal is to catch fish. The bright illustrations and lively adventures appeal to young readers, while they learn about the tricks and techniques of flyfishing.

In the first adventure, Olive’s off to Camp Tightloops, where she meets a tackle box full of colorful dry flies. She feels insecure, since as a streamer she doesn’t float above the water. Eventually she fits in and learns to zip and weave for fish appeal.

Olive and the Big Stream sees Olive and her new friends trying their skills at landing a trout. In Olive Goes for a Wild Ride, Olive meets Clark the small steelhead, and together they explore a racing river.

The last two books especially catch the frustration and excitement of fishing, a definite hook for kids who read these entertaining tales.”[/EXPAND]

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