Book reviews are something an author looks forward to with mixed emotions. Hopefully the author has confidence in their work. Afterall, in order to have become published, they’ve obviously done something right– or at least impressed the right people. However, reviews are the opinions of others, and opinions are subjective. So when a review is anticipated it only makes sense that the author may look forward to it with a bit of trepidation.
A while back I was approached by a person who does book reviews. He was inquiring about reviewing the Olive series, and since I don’t keep a stock of books on hand, I suggested he contact the publisher for review copies. I didn’t know if he would or not. Well, he did.
Jason Kirkfield, who calls himself “The Pride and Sorrow of children’s book reviewers”, has done over 100 children’s book reviews on Amazon.com. Here is his review of Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, which happens to have received a 5 star rating:
Olive is a cutie and this is a great introduction to flyfishing,June 23, 2011Pacific Northwest native Kirk Werner wrote and illustrated this delightful tale of a Woolly Bugger. (That’s a kind of fishing fly. For flyfishing. Where you use a “fake” bug instead of, say, a real worm. See here.)
Anyway, Olive is anthropomorphized and essentially takes the place of a young child in this story. We see her attending a summer camp (Camp Tightloops, haha) for young flies to learn how to catch fish. It’s a novel concept, and works well in large part due to Kirk’s expressive illustrations. I don’t think anyone has tried this approach before.
We are taking our kids fishing for the first time this summer, and this book (in fact, this series* of books) provides the perfect introduction. Kids learn how the hooks’ barbs are pinched (to facilitate Catch and Release) and why different flies (dry flies, streamers, nymphs, etc.) are used in different situations and for different fish.
In less selfish terms, Olive the Little Woolly Bugger is a perfect choice for kids who are going to a new summer camp, or starting school, or really any social situation which takes them away from their parents and introduces them to new people and potential anxiety. Olive sets a good example by using her positive attitude, along with the support of her new friends, to earn a spot in The Fly Box.
Ultimately, Kirk’s book aims to teach a fairly common kid lit lesson–being different is good (“discover why being different is what makes Olive a splashing success”); he does so with a unique protagonist and with humor and sensitivity, and he does so successfully.
An appendix presents a dozen photographs of real flies (not real “live” flies, but real photographs of flies used in flyfishing). I think I recognize the “Andy” font which has always been one of my favorites.
* I will also be reviewing the sequels, Olive and the Big Stream and Olive Goes for a Wild Ride.[The reviewer was provided with a complimentary copy of the book.]