fly fishing books for kids

Fan mail

Every so often I’ll receive an email from a parent whose kids have enjoyed reading Olive, and every bit of feedback is very flattering and much appreciated.  Whenever I hear that Olive has brought some joy to a child it’s worth its weight in gold.

And so when I received the latest email from a mom-to-be, I was suddenly the richest man in the world:

Dear Kirk,

 My husband and I are expecting a baby any day now, and he ordered the first Olive book of the series.  (As you can imagine, fly fishing is one of his favorite things to do – and living in Vermont, we’re very fortunate to enjoy all Mother Nature has to offer.)  We’ve been reading to the baby and last night we read Olive – it’s fantastic!  Not only did I learn more about the fly fishing terms and experiences, but in a more conducive way than my husband could explain!  We really enjoy and appreciate the resiliency of Olive and her perseverance.  While Randall is not our favorite character we appreciated the fact that everything isn’t a nicety and how Olive still had compassion for him.  These are some important lessons we hope to teach our child and are so easily reflected in this book.

 I don’t mean to describe your book – but I hope I got my point across about how much we enjoyed it, and we’re sure it (as well as the other Olive books) will be a huge hit in our house now and when we can see and read face to face with our newest addition.

 Thank you for sharing your hard work and passions!

 Sincerely,

Jessica

 

Thank you for the kind words, Jessica. Perhaps by now you’ve been gifted with your new baby, and I wish you the very best in the years to come!

Fan Mail

I love hearing from fans of Olive.

When someone takes the time to send an email or write a letter telling me that they love Olive the Woolly Bugger, it does my heart good and makes it all worthwhile. Recently I received and email from Ashley in Montana who mentioned that her son loves fly fishing and fly tying and the Olive books. He had written me a letter and wanted to mail it to me; Ashley requested my address, which I happily shared with her. A few days later I received a very nice letter from her son, Oliver.

Hi Kirk,

I rilly licke the Olive the Wolly bugger Book’s so can you think abbout a copel more Bok’s in the seires.

Oliver

 

As an author I haven’t received all that many letters, but this is one of my favorites. I wrote Oliver back and sent him a bookmark and sticker, but I forgot to mention to him that years ago when I wrote the story of Olive the Little Woolly Bugger I struggled with the decision to make the main character a boy or girl. Had it been a boy, his name would have been Oliver the Woolly Bugger.

Thanks again, Oliver, for taking the time to write. Hopefully there will be at least two more books in the future. Tell all your friends about Olive- that may help ensure that the next books get published.

 

Where the Wild Things Aren’t

An article in USAToday.com recently came through my in-box, and I’m glad it did. The article, titled “Study: New children’s books lack reference to nature, animals” talks about the trend in children’s books, whereby there are fewer and fewer themes dealing with the natural outdoor world.

This is really of little surprise to me, as it’s merely a microcosm of the world in which we live today—a world in which kids are spending more time engaged with technology, and less time outside playing the dirt.  I’ve written about this on several occasions, touting the merits of fly fishing as a great way to get kids interested in outdoor recreation, gaining an appreciation for the natural wonders, and having fun away from computers, cell phones and video games.

The USA Today article says this of the study:

Researchers at several universities reviewed about 8,100 images in 296 children’s books. The books were all Caldecott Medal winners and honorees from 1938 to 2008.

They didn’t review the Olive books because Olive did not win a Caldecott award. The Caldecott is a very distinguished award given annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. But that’s beside the point.

Co-author Chris Podeschi of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania says: “This is just one sample of children’s books, but it suggests there may be a move away from the natural world as the population is increasingly isolated from these settings. This could translate into less concern about the environment.”

I would agree. One of the great values in teaching kids about the outdoors is teaching them the importance of taking care of the environment. Through fly fishing, Olive teaches kids to be stewards of the fish, and the world in which the fish live. If you teach a child a lesson early on, they will carry that through life with them, growing into the next generation of conservationists. In a world where our natural resources hang in a delicate balance, this is more important than ever.

Not surprisingly the article cites Dr. Richard Louv, co-founder of the Children & Nature Network and a well-known author on the subject of connecting kids with nature. Aside from his passion for reconnecting kids with nature, Dr. Louv is also a fly fisherman 😉  The disconnect between today’s children and the natural world is a very real concern.

Psychologist Susan Linn, author of The Case for Make Believe, says the research supports growing concerns about children’s lack of connection with nature.

“Time in green space is essential to children’s mental and physical health,” Linn says. “And the health of the planet depends on a generation of children who love and respect the natural world enough to protect it from abuse and degradation.”

To read the full article, click HERE.

For two reasons I wish the folks conducting the study had chosen Olive as a subject for their research: First, that would mean that Olive had earned a Caldecott Award; and second, they would have seen that some children’s books still carry the torch for the great outdoors.

How do you say “Woolly Bugger” in French?

I know nothing of French culture, though I do like their fries. I’m vaguely familiar with the famed French attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. I know France is famous for their vineyards, good wine and good food. And if I’m not mistaken, isn’t Paris the fashion capital of the world? But what about fly fishing in France?  I never hear much about it, but I assume people in France enjoy fly fishing–afterall, people everywhere fly fish. But how popular is it in France?

Comment est populaire de pêche à la mouche en France?

Assuming it’s popular in France, French anglers must see the same value in promoting fly fishing to kids and to that end I hope Olive the Woolly Bugger can bring her message to French kids. Do they teach kids to fly fish in France?

Enseignent-ils les enfants à voler de poisson à la France?

It’s early in my quest, but the Olive books are being sent to a publisher of children’s books in France, in hopes that they will see the value in the message of Olive’s stories. My hope is they’ll strike a deal with the U.S. publisher to translate and distribute to the fly fishing folks in France.

Wish us luck – and if you’re a French angler, Olive would love to hear from you!

Si vous êtes un pêcheur, l’huile d’olive français serait amour de vous entendre!

Sincèrement,

Olive the Woolly Bugger

 

A Call to Action from Olive the Woolly Bugger

Promoting goods via various means of marketing is what makes a business or product known in the marketplace. Reaching one’s target audience with a message that will hopefully entice them to purchase your product or service is relatively easy given the power of the internet today, but actually getting those audience members to act (make a purchase) requires considerably more effort.

Well, Olive has decided to try something a little different–something rather direct that goes against her soft-spoken nature. She has a huge favor to ask of her True Fans.

If you have or have not seen the books, please consider buying a set of all 3 and giving them to a kid–any kid–even (especially) if they’re not from a fly fishing family. Olive has a message for everyone, and it’s not just about fly fishing.

The fly fishing connection is obvious, but the messages in the stories about perseverance, discovering one’s talents, accepting others, that being different is good, friendship, etc are lessons everyone can identify with, whether or not they’ve ever wet a line. Olive wants everyone in the world to know about her, and that starts one book at a time. It starts with you, the True Fan of Olive. Please, give some very serious consideration to going out right this minute, and ordering a set of Olive books. Some lucky kid will thank you, and you may just find that you want to get a set for yourself. Big kids love Olive, too.

Share this on Facebook. Tweet it on Twitter. Tell your friends. Olive thanks you.

There are 3 books in the series

 

I’ve never met an idiot on a blocked call

It’s been a while since I wrote of my progress on the Olive film front and the reason for that is simply that I have nothing to report. There have been no blips on the radar, as it were.  Well, there was a blip on the radar this evening, but that blip went undetected.

A week or so ago I sent a set of Olive books to the second Big Fish I’ve targeted since beginning my quest. This Big Fish met all the criteria to be an invaluable asset in bringing Olive to the big screen: this Big Fish is a well known Hollywood actor and a published author. His published works include a recent and popular fly fishing book as well as a series of children’s books. His work on television and the big screen makes him a household name. I thought that if anyone would appreciate what I am trying to accomplish, it would be him. I hoped he would be interested in the project. Heck, I even had him earmarked as the voice for Clark.

So when my phone rang tonight, it displayed “blocked call”. Naturally I anticipated a solicitor or some other shady individual, so of course I didn’t answer. Why would I? It’s my policy to not answer calls unless I recognize the name/number. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message, right? Well, apparently it was important because much to my surprise there was a voicemail from “blocked call”. I listened, and my jaw dropped because of whose voice it was–yes, it was the second Big Fish. It was the nicest, most heartfelt rejection I could have ever hoped for. I was upset for sure, not so much out of disappointment in being rejected (well, OK maybe a little- or, a lot), but because I’d missed the call. There’s no way to call him back because the number was blocked for obvious security reasons.What I wouldn’t give to have that chance again.

With regard to his book, I’ve not yet read it, but I will be doing so soon. The author is actually signing books at a fly shop in LA in a week, and a friend of mine is going to be there, standing in line, to get me an autographed copy (thanks in advance, Aileen). I’ll read the book with great interest, knowing that I came “this close” to talking to the author. At least I’ll have his autograph.

So, this is strike two when it comes to Big Fish. I’ve got another one in mind, so I shall forge ahead. If Olive never makes it to the big screen, I am better for the journey she has taken me on. I’ve had close encounters with some well known people, and the Olive books have found their way into the hands of people who may have never seen them otherwise. There is victory to be found in that alone.

So thank you, Mr. Big Fish, for the courtesy of the call. I’ll be listening to your voicemail over and over as I bang my head against the wall. And if you ever have a change of plans, Olive eagerly awaits you. Next time I’ll take your call.

And we proceeded on…

 

Getting to know: Polly the Partridge & Orange

Partridge and Orange

This is the fourth in a series of interviews with characters from the Olive books. If you’re already familiar with the books, you’ll know these “folks” being interviewed. If you’ve not yet seen the books, these interviews will give you some insight into the colorful cast of characters who help to make Olive’s adventures so engaging and fun.

Read the first interview here, the second interview here, and the third interview here.

Today, Olive interviews one of her closest friends, a very quiet and soft-spoken fly whom she first met at Camp Tightloops, Polly the Partridge and Orange.

Olive: Hey there, Polly! Thanks for coming on the show today.

Polly: Oh, thank you for inviting me, Olive.

Olive: You’ve always been one of my favorites, Polly. You’re so nice.  Tell us a bit more about yourself.

Polly:  Oh, I’m not very comfortable talking about myself. Must I, really?

Olive: Polly, you are so pretty and you’re such a good fishing fly. I’m sure everyone would love to know more about you. Lots of people probably don’t know what a Partridge and Orange is.

Polly:  Well, thank you. I appreciate the nice words.  OK, well, a Partridge and Orange is a soft hackle fly, and even though soft hackles may not be very well known to some people, they’ve been around for a long, long time.

Olive: You’re not a dry fly, right?  I mean, you have hackles, but they’re not the same as dry fly hackles.

Polly:  Right, my hackles are made from the soft feathers of a partridge, and instead of sticking out straight and causing me to float like a dry fly, my hackles are swept back. I’m actually a wet fly, designed to fish under the water, where my hackles move back and forth like the legs of an insect.

Olive: So, do you swing in the current like a streamer?

Polly:  Yep, I can do that. Or I can also dead drift in the current.

Olive: Like Gilbert!

Polly:  Right, just like Gilbert. He’s such a good guy.

Olive: He is. I’m so glad we’re all good friends. We have a lot of fun hanging out in The Fly Box. Are there any other ways that you can fly fish?

Polly:  I can also be used in lakes and ponds where I’m usually fished just under the surface, like mayfly that’s just emerging from a nymph into an adult. I can also be used to imitate a caddis. I’m sorry, I feel as though I’m talking too much about myself.

Olive: That’s so cool! You sure can do a lot of different things. For someone with as much talent as you have, you’re so humble. I like that about you, Polly.

Polly: Thank you, Olive. That’s very kind of you to say. You’ve always been so encouraging. On that very first day that we fished The Big Stream, it was very frustrating. I’m so thankful to have had you there as a friend.

Olive: That was a very tough day for everyone. We were all so new to fishing and I think our expectations were that we’d all catch a whole bunch of fish. We sure learned that isn’t always the case!

Polly: Indeed.  And if one isn’t going to catch fish, it’s certainly much more fun when you’re with good friends.

Olive: Absolutely!  Spending time with friends is what fishing is all about! Hey Polly, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but you have a slight accent to your voice don’t you?

Polly: (shyly) Yes. The Partridge and Orange was originally an English creation, so that’s where my accent comes from.

Olive: That’s so interesting. See?  You’ve got so much to offer!  I’m sure everyone has enjoyed learning more about you and I’m really glad you agreed to do this interview today.

Polly: Well, anything for you Olive. We’ve been through a lot together.

Olive: No kidding. Remember that day at Camp Tightloops when we had to get our barbs flattened? We were all so scared.

Polly: It was absolutely terrifying! Luckily it didn’t hurt one bit, and I’m glad you went first. That made it much easier for me.

Olive: And it was all worthwhile because without barbs on our hooks it’s much easier to remove our hooks from a fish’s mouth without risking injury to the fish.

Polly: Right.  We wouldn’t want to hurt the fish. It’s important to release them unharmed so that we can try to catch them again.

Olive: OK, Polly, I have one more question for you if you don’t mind. If you were in a movie and you could choose a famous actor to lend their voice talent to the role of Polly the Partridge and Orange, who would you choose?

Polly: Oh, I wouldn’t want to choose. There are so many talented actresses. I suppose someone with a British accent would be the perfect choice. May I suggest Jane Seymour? She’s lovely, and she’s also a fly angler.

Jane Seymour

Getting to know: Stan the Stimulator

Stimulator

This is the third in a series of interviews with characters from the Olive books. If you’re already familiar with the books, you’ll know these “folks” being interviewed. If you’ve not yet seen the books, these interviews will give you some insight into the colorful cast of characters who help to make Olive’s adventures so engaging and fun.

Read the first interview here, and the second interview here.

Today, Olive welcomes one of her favorite friends from The Fly Box, the very lively Stan the Stimulator.

Olive: Hi Stan, thanks for taking the time to stop by today!

Stan: THIS IS AWESOME, OLIVE!!! YOU ROCK! THIS ROCKS! MAN, THIS IS SO COOL!!!

Olive: (laughs) Oh, man, Stan–I almost forgot how enthusiastic you are!  Can you do me a favor?

Stan: SURE THING, OLIVE!  YOU NAME IT, I CAN DIG IT!!!

Olive: (still laughing) Can you, um, use your indoor voice…please?

Stan: NO SWEAT, WOOLLY B!  Sorry, I mean, sure– no problem! Sorry I guess I get a little excited when talkin’ fly fishin’!  WOOT WOOT!!!

Olive: Well, let’s talk about that, then.  So, you’re obviously a Stimulator. Tell the audience a bit more about yourself.

Stan: You got that right, Olive–I am a STIM-U-LATOR. I’m all about action…STIMULACTION!

Olive: (still laughing) What do you mean by that, Stan?

Stan: Well, you can see for yourself, I’m big and bright and bushy. I am the HACKLE MASTER!  I’m all about getting fish excited. You can call me STAN THE FISH MAN…I am LARGE and IN CHARGE!!!

Olive: (rolls her eyes, smiling) Are all stimulators just like you?

Stan: Well, not exactly. There are different color variations, but I’m tied with a yellow body, so when fish see me, they see a big old golden stonefly, and anyone who knows fly fishing knows that fish go CRAZY for GOLDEN STONES!!! (hops up and down)

Olive: Well, I must admit, you are hard to ignore!

Stan: That’s right, Olive–not much about me is…um…

Olive: Subtle?

Stan: YEAH, that’s the word…subt– see?  I can’t even SAY it!!! HA HA!

Olive: So, it’s safe to assume that you’re a dry fly, right?

Stan: ROGER THAT. Stan the Man is a Dry Fly Guy! I am ALL about the FLOAT, just like a BOAT!

Olive: So let’s talk about that for a minute. You do look like you would float really well.

Stan: WORD!  I’m at my best in extreme water…you know, when the going gets ROUGH, Stan gets TOUGH!

Olive: Can you explain that to those who don’t know what you mean?

Stan: I’m built to float HIGH and DRY in fast water that would sink most other flies. I’m built like a TANK, but I bob like a CORK!!!  You see, stoneflies skim along the surface of the water, in riffles and rapids where they lay their eggs. The best fly imitations are ones that can skitter and skate over fast water without becoming waterlogged or soggy. BADDA-BOOM, BADDA-BINGULATOR–it’s time for STAN THE STIMULATOR!!!

Olive: Oh Stan, you crack me up! But even though you kinda like to brag, I know that deep down you’ve got a heart of gold.

Stan: Stan is all about sharing the love. My heart is GOLD like a GOLDEN STONE, baby!!! I love EVERYONE!

Olive: And everyone loves you, Stan. You are a LOT of fun to have in The Fly Box. We’re all different, but that’s OK because we all do different things.

Stan: I KNOW, RIGHT?!! I think it’s SUPER COOL the way you can swim UNDER the water…I mean, WOW–I couldn’t do that even if I tried!  Well, maybe if someone tied a boat anchor to my line, then I might be able to sink, but I wouldn’t know what to do if I did! IT WOULD STINK IF STAN WERE TO SINK!!!

Olive: Well, I don’t think we have to worry about that. It’s sure fun to watch you do what you do, and you always have a great attitude. I’ve only seen you discouraged once. Remember that?

Stan: Oh yeah, I remember. It was our first time at the Big Stream, and NOBODY was catching fish. I was beginning to think there were no fish in the river until you rocked that Rainbow–BOO-YAH!!! Score ONE for O the WOOLLY B!!!

Olive: Thanks, but I think I just got lucky that day.  We’ve all learned a lot since then. OK, Stan–I know it’s hard for you to sit still for too long so I have just one more question. If you were in a movie and you could choose a famous actor to lend their voice talent to the role of Stan the Stimulator, who would you choose?

Stan: (silence)

Olive: Stan?  This isn’t like you to be at a loss for words…

Stan: Sorry, my mind is SPINNING IT’S WHEELS…OK, I got it…definitely JIM CARREY!!! No, WAIT…ROBIN WILLIAMS!!! Oh MAN- this is SO HARD!  Either of them would ROCK! Oh hey, look- a SQUIRREL!!!

Jim Carrey

Robin Williams

Olive the Woolly Bugger film: The End

A while back I shared with you my idea for the opening scene for the Olive animated film. Based on this concept, those familiar with the Olive books recognize that this film will not just be a recycled version of the stories from the books.

The opening scene precedes a dream sequence in which the magic of the story is contained. After the dream has concluded, the closing scene finds Olivia and her father standing together along the edge of a river. It’s Olivia’s first time fly fishing, and she is filled with wonder and intrigue. Like any child she wants to catch a fish, but thanks to her dream from the night before, she has gained insight that goes well beyond her young years and lack of experience. As she casts her line into the water she asks her father, “Dad, do you think the river can talk to us?” Her father is delightfully caught off-guard by the question. Through their conversation we learn that a river does talk to us, if we’re willing to listen. And thanks to Olive the Woolly Bugger we come to realize that there is much more to fishing than just catching fish…

Olive the Woolly Bugger as an animated film. This is my dream.

Olive the Woolly Bugger film: an introduction

Olive the woolly bugger animated movie poster

Most recently I posted the movie poster for the Olive film. Now it’s time once again to share a bit about the Olive film project – not so much an update on my current progress in attracting Big Fish to the project as I’ve done in the past – but by sharing with my readership the actual concept for the film. A sneak peak, if you will.

For those familiar with the Olive books, you may wondering how the stories will make the leap to the big screen. I’ve been wondering that myself, and over the past few months have been developing the story. While the film will obviously draw heavily from the books, it won’t just be a recycled version of the Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, Olive and The Big Stream and Olive Goes for a Wild Ride – it’s much more than that. It has to be. The books are quite basic by virtue of the fact that they are children’s stories for ages 6 and up, and there is not “room” to tell a much deeper story. An animated film must have considerably more depth, and while it may visually look like something created for an audience of children, it has to be as much for adults as for their kids. There’s a reason grown-ups love the great animated films produced by the likes of Pixar (Cars), Dreamworks (Kung Fu Panda) and Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age).

Opening scene

The film opens with a scene that sets the stage for the adventure to unfold. A little girl named Olivia watches with great wonder as her father sits at his fly tying desk. In his vice is an olive-colored woolly bugger, which he describes to his young daughter. Once the final touches have been made to the fly, Dad removes it from the vice and hands it to Olivia.  The little girl is excited to use her new fly the next day, when she’ll be joining her father on her first fly fishing trip.  Filled with anticipation of the following morning, Olivia dashes off to her room, hops into her bed and gently places the woolly bugger into her fly box along with other patterns her father has tied for her.  She admires the many colorful, interesting patterns, then gently closes the lid to the fly box.

“Goodnight, olive woolly bugger,” she says as she turns out her light. She drifts off to sleep and begins to dream…

Stay tuned for more updates and descriptions of new scenes specific to the film. A strong undercurrent will be an important message about conservation, from respecting fish to caring for the river and the surrounding environment.  I’ll also be introducing new characters in the coming weeks–characters that I think everyone will find engaging and humorous.  I hope you’ll enjoy the progression and I welcome comments from those of you who have been following along since the beginning, as well as from those of you who’ve just come onboard.  Thanks for your continued interest and support in bringing this dream alive.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got more Big Fish to pursue…