fly fishing books for kids
A while back, the first book in the Olive series, Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, was reviewed on Amazon.com by Jason Kirkfield. Mr. Kirkfield recently did the same for the second book, Olive and The Big Stream:
July 31, 2011
As with the first entry from this series*, author/illustrator Kirk Werner offers a uniquely enjoyable means of learning about flyfishing. Where the first book sees Olive the Little Woolly Bugger attending camp, here she gets her first chance to catch a real fish. Olive is in fact a fishing fly, and the anthropomorphized heroine is a perfect stand-in for a young child. Kirk’s illustrations are energetic and expressive, and his story is both empowering and educational.
Olive and the Big Stream is obviously a perfect choice for kids going fishing for the first time. In broader terms, the Olive books are just as wonderful for any new activities your child may be starting. Olive continues to set a good example with her positive attitude, using both physical as well as mental strength to catch a fish, thus earning a coveted top-row spot in The Fly Box.
This book continues to champion Catch and Release: “Olive was glad that the trout was set free because she wanted nothing more than to come back to The Big Stream and catch him again.” Indeed, the co-star of this second book (Mr. Trout) is immensely likable, even with no dialogue. Kirk Werner entertains the dream of seeing Olive turned into an animated film, and I would love to see that happen.
We recently took our kids fishing for the first time, and these first two books were the best preparation I could have hoped for. In addition to learning about the equipment and mechanics of fishing, Olive and her pals share the real joy of fishing: just being out there in nature is a worthwhile endeavor. We even used woolly buggers. (To no avail, sadly.) The best part? The kids can’t wait to go fishing again. That’s an unqualified success for Olive and for Kirk Werner, too.
The appendix of a dozen photographs of real flies (again, not real “live” flies, but real photographs of flies used in flyfishing) is the same as in the first book, and I frequently referred to it both during the story, and especially afterward during our preparation for the trip.
[The reviewer was provided with a complimentary copy of the book.]
To read the review on Amazon and to see all other reviews by Jason Kirkfield, go HERE.
Several months ago I pitched an idea to the folks at Redington and it was a good enough idea that they enthusiastically agreed on a joint venture to promote kids and fly fishing. You see, Redington makes the Minnow Fly Fishing Outfit which is a great outfit geared toward kids. My series of Olive fly fishing books are also geared toward kids, so it seemed like a reasonably excellent idea for Olive and Redington to team up and give fishy kids some added value, as if getting the Minnow wasn’t awesome enough!
Now when your lucky little fishing buddy opens their brand new Minnow, they’ll find the following coupon inside, good for ordering all three Olive books at half off the retail price of $12.95.
Recently a friend, Sarah, pointed out to me that Northwest Fly Fishing magazine announced the Redington/Olive partnership in their March/April 2011 issue. I’ve not yet had a chance to get the latest issue of the magazine so Sarah sent me a scanned copy of the page featuring the announcement. Thanks, Sarah! The article is here:
By the way, Sarah works for The Wild Salmon Center, doing great work on behalf of our Pacific Rim salmon.
So run on over to your local fly shop and pick up a Redington Minnow for your kid, and don’t throw the box away! In addition to there being some great casting games and cut-out targets printed on the box, there is also a coupon inside for some books.
I’m absolutely privileged to post a reader review of the Olive the Woolly Bugger books. My favorite reviews come not from fly fishing magazines, official book reviewers, or adults – the best reviews come from kids! Not all fans of Olive hail from a fly fishing family, either, which supports my contention that Olive is for everyone, whether you’re a fly fishing veteran or you’ve never wet a line
The following photo was sent to me from Carla, whose daughter, Hannie, has developed a certain fondness for Olive. Carla writes:
“I have to tell you that out of hundreds of books (I’m a teacher…I have HUNDREDS) my little Hannie, who’s 3, wants to hear about “Olive” ALL the time. ”
I love seeing bent corners on books, a clear indication that they’re getting lots of use! Thank you to Carla and Hannie for getting hooked on Olive the Woolly Bugger!
Thanks to a writing prompt over at the Outdoor Blogger Network I decided to dredge up some recollections of a very fond fly fishing experience I had as a kid. I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I was first introduced to fly fishing by Lloyd Lewis, a friend and co-worker of my dad, but I’m thinking it had to have been around the age of 10 or 11.
Lloyd was a fanatical fly fisherman who enjoyed visiting my family cabin on the shores of Hood Canal, where the sea run cutthroat fishing used to be quite excellent. My dad recalls a time when he and Lloyd were trolling an incoming tide: my dad dragging some sort of lure behind his spinning setup; Lloyd casting and stripping probably some sort of saltwater baitfish pattern. My dad still talks about the monster cutt that Lloyd landed on that trip. While fishermen always tend to exaggerate, and as time passes the size of the fish has likely grown considerably, my dad maintains that it was a 20 inch fish that ran far and jumped several times before Lloyd finally landed it. The fish was released, I am sure, and I’m not saying my dad is a liar, but without photographic proof I’ll never know how big that fish really was. I wasn’t on the boat that day.
But back to the point of this entry, which is not the second hand memory of a great cutthroat trout caught by Lloyd Lewis. The reason for mentioning Lloyd is simply to thank him for introducing me to fly fishing as a kid. So grateful am I to Lloyd that I dedicated the second Olive book, Olive and The Big Stream, to him. He is ultimately responsible not only for my current fly fishing passion, but also for a particular fond memory I had while fishing one evening in British Columbia back country.
I was fortunate to be involved in a Boy Scout troop (#668 of the Chief Seattle Council, by the way) that had the support and involvement of many great leaders: dads and even some dad-aged men whose boys were no longer active in the troop. Thanks to these dedicated men, my troop took regular weekend backpacking trips in the Cascade mountains of western Washington. Once a year, each summer, these same leaders would organize 2 week-long “50 Milers” which never ended up being only 5o miles (more like 60-70+ miles). We did one of these trips in the Yellowstone back country, and another in the North Cascades along the Pacific Crest Trail (with a few days spent on a particularly cruel path aptly named the Three Fools Trail). I recall both trips fondly (and with a bit of painful resentment), but it was a trip to Bowron Lake Provincial Park that left an indelible mark on my fly fishing memory. The trip took place in August of 1976, when I was 13 years old.
Bowron Lake Provincial Park is a chain of lakes that forms a circuit totaling 72 miles by canoe. The lakes are not quite completely connected by water: between the six major lakes of the chain are overland portages of various lengths. I seem to recall a couple of these portages as being quite easy and short, while a few of them were a bit longer and not quite so easy. Part of our preparation for the trip was to select a canoe partner with whom we would spend a great deal of time with during the entire 10 or so days. A wise scout would choose a partner who was much bigger and stronger than they were, and in my wisdom I chose my friend, Mark Aldape, as my paddling buddy.
Each canoe partner was responsible for building their own “yoke” which would be used to help carry 50% of the canoe across land, on their shoulders. After constructing the yokes, which were comprised of a plywood frame with thick foam attached using copious amounts of duct tape, each team had to qualify for the trip by carrying the canoe on their shoulders, for a distance of two miles (if my memory serves correct). This test was performed on the track at the local junior high school, and I must have completed the test successfully because I was a passenger in the caravan of vehicles that departed Seattle for the 550 mile drive north.
There is an awful lot about this trip I don’t recall specifically, though a few events still linger in the forefront of my memory:
A particularly long day on one of the big lakes found us paddling in a very strong wind. Due to canoes heavily laden with camping gear, we had to stay close to the shorelines in the event of a swamping, which luckily didn’t occur. The wind was at our backs, which was preferable to a headwind, but paddling was still an arduous task. The air continued to move with force well into the evening after we’d reached camp, and four of us decided to rope our two canoes together to form a catamaran of sorts, erecting a tent rain-fly as a makeshift spinnaker. Our hopes were that the brutal wind would continue the next day and we could sail effortlessly toward the next destination, laughing at the naysayers as we glided past them. Of course the wind died down and never picked up again, and rowing two canoes lashed together proved to be much more difficult than two separate canoes.
Hypothermia sets in.
Another memorable event took place on the evening when one of our scout leaders, Mr. Pete Baird, himself a savvy outdoorsmen and a fly fisherman, went for a swim and remained a bit too long in the cold lake water. By the time he emerged, he was suffering from the effects of moderate hypothermia, and admitted as much. He had the uncontrollable shivers and his motor skills were slightly affected. Fortunately he was in good company (the Scout Motto is “Be Prepared”), and we wrapped him in a sleeping bag, seated him close by a fire and plied him with a warm beverage. His core temperature rose and he was none the worse for the wear after that. But a lesson was learned.
The other standout memory is the day when we knowingly would have to navigate a section of a river with strong current and a sharp dogleg bend. Maneuvering this corner was causing some anxiety amongst the leaders, and the troop sent canoes through one by one. Each canoe pulled over safely to the bank as we awaited for the final pair of paddlers to launch their descent into the chute. As fate would have it, this final boat failed to execute the bend in the river and swamped as the canoe got sideways in the current. Luckily again, the Boy Scouts were prepared and quickly extracted the canoe, the gear, and the paddlers safely from the river. Had there not been a rescue contingent on hand, the results might have been disastrous.
The Royal Coachman reigns King.
Of the entire trip, one event left me with the fondest memory: the evening we made camp along the shore where a small river spilled into the lake. After setting up camp, preparing dinner and cleaning up after the meal, the sun began to fade and in doing so made for a beautiful evening. The surface of the lake resembled a mill pond and the riseforms of dozens of fish could be seen a few yards off shore, where the stream dumped it’s waters into the lake. I grabbed my Eddie Bauer 7-1/2 foot fiberglass rod (a gift from Lloyd Lewis), attached my Cortland Crown click and pawl reel spooled with floating line and set out in the canoe. Floating within 25 years of the shoreline, I fondly recall catching fish after fish on a Royal Coachman. The fish were small Kokanee (land-locked Sockeye salmon) that were probably no larger than 10-12 inches. It didn’t matter the size, and I don’t recall specifically how many I caught and released (probably far fewer than my memory serves). I do remember that I fished until it was too dark to see, and it was the bigger picture that left an impression on me and instilled the understanding that there’s more to fishing than catching fish.
Introduce a kid to fishing. You never know the impact it may have on them throughout their lives.
A friend of mine who introduced his kids to the entire series of Olive the woolly bugger books a couple of years ago took these photos of a cake made for his daughter’s 8th birthday. She was given a choice as to what kid of cake she wanted for her big day, and she chose Olive. Check out the three foot woolly bugger cake!
Thanks to Nick and his kids for the enthusiastic support for Olive!
I check webstats from time to time, and occasionally a referring link will catch my attention and I’ll follow that link to the source. Sometimes it’s a dead end, but recently I followed a link to Fly BC and discovered that someone had posted a link to my Olive site. I got a good chuckle out of what one of the other members posted (thanks for olydagoly for posting, and to rustyr for your amusing comment):
Great books, I got three of them for my sons. Word of warning:
When you sing Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and you get the part “All of the other reindeer” sometimes kids MAY say ” Olive the wooley bugger”… At least mine did. Funny at home, somewhat awkward in public.
That’s good stuff right there- I’ll have to remember that next year at Christmas!
Thanks to the folks in British Columbia for the good word. I hope olive you have a Happy New Year.
We all know that opinions, no matter the topic, are subjective. Book reviews are simply opinions of one or more persons and therefore prone to that same subjectivity. However, when a consensus is reached, that subjectivity tends to become something you can trust. I’m happy to report that to date, I’ve not received a bad review for Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, Olive and The Big Stream, and/or Olive Goes for a Wild Ride.
There are lots of reviews over on Amazon.com, but let’s be honest: many (though not all) of those reviews are from people I know who did me the favor of posting their reviews to drive traffic in that direction. While certainly I appreciate their time and support, any savvy person knows that these types of reviews are solicited. Nothing wrong with that, as long as the reviewers are being objective and honest. By the way, I like what’s been said about Olive on Amazon! 😉
More valuable perhaps are reviews by people with whom I have no previous relationship. They don’t know me from the next stranger who asks them to review a book, so they are going to be objective in their assessment of my work. As they should be–it’s their job to give their honest feedback.
The following are excerpts from previous reviews, by people I do not know, of the Olive books. You can find some the full reviews on the REVIEWS page of the Olive website.
“The child in your life will love these fun stories where flies come to life and fight just as hard as anglers for that feisty wild trout.” Trout magazine, Spring 2008
“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…beautifully illustrated and written, they show great imagination and real knack for storytelling.” Midcurrent, January 30, 2008
“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.” Native Fish Society, December 2007
“…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.” Washington State Magazine, Winter 2009
“There are many ways to pass along the love of the outdoors and one is this wonderful series of children’s books by Kirk Werner...Whether you have a family lured by the appeal of flyfishing or not, this series of books will get young readers hooked on the outdoors and reading…These books are truly unique in that they introduce young readers to the sport of flyfishing in an entertaining way. As somebody with no experience or interest in flyfishing, I found these books fun to read, educational, and entertaining. The bright and colorful illustrations are amazing and so much fun to view.” Examiner.com, July 15, 2009
“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.” MyShelf.com, February 2008
“Kirk Werner has found a niche in juvenile literature and filled nicely. 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.” TCM Reviews, March 2008
“Is there a more noble and worthy endeavor in this world than inspiring kids to read, and at the same time, tuning them into the world of fly fishing? That’s what author Kirk Werner is doing with his catchy series of books for young readers based on his “Olive the Little Woolly Bugger” character. Wonderfully illustrated and smartly written, these three books offer a keen balance of entertainment and educational value (they were a hit with my 9 year-old son). Given the intense interest in fostering interest in fly fishing among kids, this series is certainly work including in a shop’s book section.” Angling Trade, December 2009
All three books were also given some very nice coverage on page 62 of Fly Fusion magazine (volume 7 issue 2, Spring 2010).
A while ago I tried to find a way to contact the folks at the Oprah show to see about submitting Olive for consideration in Oprah’s Book Club List. I had visions of grandeur that Oprah herself would see the books, deem them awesome, have the author on her show, and give away a set of Olive the woolly bugger books to everyone in the audience. Olive would be an instant household name. Oprah has the power to make best sellers out of previously nobodies. Actually, I don’t even care about getting on Oprah’s show, but I would be tickled if my Olive books made Oprah’s Book List for Kids.
Unfortunately I never even got a reply when I submitted the contact form so I’m still a nobody. I wasn’t surprised. After all, Oprah doesn’t strike me as the type of person who would be particularly interested in fly fishing. But wait! Apparently she has actually tried casting a fly before! Maybe there’s still hope for Olive to break through the fortress and get into Oprah’s hands.
Here is an entry on Field & Stream’s Honest Angler blog.
And Midcurrent also covered the story.
If anyone knows Oprah personally, please have her contact me. I’ll be waiting with baited breath for her call, which should come soon because this is her last season, afterall.
There are a couple different contests going on right now, and with so much excitement, things can get a little confusing. Let me clear things up.
Contest #1: Olive Stickers to support Casting 4 a Cure
This isn’t so much a contest, rather than a friendly competition to raise a little money for a great cause. I’m selling Olive the Woolly Bugger stickers for $3.00 each: of that, $1.50 goes directing to Casting 4 a Cure to fund research and support for the International Rett Syndrome Foundation. The other $1.50 covers the cost of printing and postage. The person who places the largest order of stickers as of October 4th 2010 will win a pair of Optic Nerve sunglasses (A $100 value). All you have to do to enter into the competition is click on over to Myflies.com and purchase a sticker. BTW, a sticker will look great on your drift boat, fishing rig, or tricycle.
October is National Rett Syndrome Awareness Month, so what a perfect time to buy an Olive sticker and contribute to such a worthy cause. Stickers will continue to be sold foe the good cause after the contest concludes.
Contest #2: Book Giveaway – 2 Free sets of Olives
I’ve created a little scavenger hunt of sorts for anyone to enter. There is no cost, other than a few minutes of your time. If you answer the questions correctly your name will be thrown into my lucky fishing hat. Two names will be drawn, and those lucky folks will each receive a set of three Olive fly fishing books for kids. Contest ends September 30, 2010 so hurry! Contest rules can be found HERE.
Word of mouth is perhaps the best form of advertising I can think of. I’m confident that once people read the books, even if they don’t know a thing about fly fishing, they’ll be hooked on Olive. And my hope is that after reading and enjoying the books these same people will recommend them to their friends.
In order to make some new fans for Olive, I’m offering a free set of books for those who play along with my contest here. It’s a scavenger hunt of sorts, so it does require a little bit of your time.
Here are the rules:
1. Successfully find the correct answers to the questions below.
2. Leave your answers in the comments section of this blog.
3. Contest ends September 30, 2010
4. I will draw the names of 2 winners. Each winner will be sent a set of autographed books.
5. You must tell your friends about Olive the Woolly Bugger!
Here are the questions:
1. Go to the Olive website. Name the titles for all three books.
2. Go to the Examiner review for the Olive books. In this review the name of Olive’s new friend in the third book is revealed. What is the name of her new friend?
3. Go to this page of the Olive website. List the most popular 3 colors of the woolly bugger.
4. Go to the Fishy Kid website. In the list of contributing artists, name the 10th artist featured on the list.
5. Go to this page of the Olive website. How many fun, free pages can you download for your kids to enjoy?
6. In this blog article, according to the Outdoor Foundation, fishing is the top…____________________?
7. Go to this page of the Olive website. Proceeds from book sales go to support two groups. List those groups.
8. Go to this page of the Olive website. Click the KONG 6/16. In the interview it is revealed that I fish with both my son and my daughter: True or False?
9. Go to this page for the publisher of the Olive books. All three Olive books are on the publisher’s bestseller list. What positions do they occupy on the list?
10. In this review on Midcurrent, the reviewer’s children preferred reading Olive to watching what TV show?
Thanks for playing along, and good luck!