Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf
by Olivia Bouler
32 pages, ages 7 and up
Sterling Children’s Books, 2011
To 13-year old Olivia Bouler, birds are fascinating, unique and intriguing. She’s been watching birds – and drawing them – for most of her life, from her backyard on Long Island (NY) to the rocky Maine coast to the sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast.
When the BP oil spill happened in April, 2010, Bouler worried for the birds. She knew that oily water would spell disaster for nesting, and she wanted to do something to help. But what can an 11-year old do to save birds?
Then she had an idea: she would sell bird drawings to raise money to save the birds. She pens a letter to the Audubon Society explaining that she is a “decent drawer” and plans to sell pictures of birds to raise money for bird rescue. In the first month she received 500 requests for paintings and raised more than $150,000.
Bouler’s book – which she wrote later that year – is part field guide, part oil-spill story. She writes about – and draws – birds that live in the woods, near the water, or in your back yard.
“You may not notice the birds around you, but there are lots of them right outside your window,” she writes. Bouler describes how birds learn to fly (from their parents), shows different habitats (forest, wetlands) and draws pictures of the weirdest, wackiest birds she’s heard of – like the scissor-tailed flycatcher.
She writes about the importance of helping birds and lists what she would do if she were President of the US: stop deforestation, use cleaner energy, and put the “eco” back into the economy.
“Even though I’m not, I know that I can make a difference,” writes Bouler. “And so can you. Kids CAN do important things to preserve our earth.” Things like putting up a bird feeder, composting egg shells and orange peels, and recycling and conserving the things we use.