Patti Pelican and The Gulf Oil Spill

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On April 20th, 2010, Louisiana and much of the Gulf coast was brought to its knees by the worst environmental catastrophe in the history of the US. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill lasted more than 100 days and impacted the flora and fauna around the waters of Southern Louisiana in such a way that they are still recovering from the devastation.

patti pelicanTitle: Patti Pelican and The Gulf Oil Spill

Written by Lynda Wurster Deniger, illustrated by Paulette Ferguson

Published by HIS publishing Company, 2011

Ages: 5-8

Themes: Deepwater Explosion and oil spill 2010, Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana, social life and customs, friendship, teamwork, pollution, sea birds

Opening Lines:

“Shrimp season opens soon and excitement fills the bright, spring morning in Grand Isle, Louisiana”


This book recounts the story of tragic Gulf Oil Spill in 2010 and how it specifically affected the lives of Patti Pelican, Sammy Seagull and Dottie Dolphin. All the animals and even the small fishing boat, Salty Seas, are anthropomorphized in this story.

Captain Charley, a shrimp boat captain, has just set out with his boat, Salty Seas, when devastating news of an explosion on an oil rig comes across his radio. Charley and Salty’s friends: Patti Pelican, Sammy Seagull and Dottie Dolphin hear the news, but don’t quite understand the gravity of the situation until a film of oil begins to flood the waters in which they live and eat. Dotti takes refuge in cleaner waters, but the two hungry birds venture into the oily waters to fish. Rapidly coated in oil, they become sick and unable to fly or fish. Luckily for them, Charley and Salty go in search of their missing friends and are able to take them to a local bird sanctuary where professionals are busy cleaning up hundreds of birds smothered in oil. Patti and Sammy balk only momentarily at the clean-up process, but soon realize these are friendly people caring for their wellbeing.

Why I like this book:

it is challenging to be able to explain t very young children the importance of not polluting our environment.  Birds, fish and animals often do not have the understanding or means to avoid the pollution that people create. While this book treats a disaster of epic proportions, it is brought down to a very kid-friendly and smaller scale level, by focusing on how two speaking birds were affected and helped. The illustrations vividly illuminate what humans and animals faced during this catastrophic event. While children want to help, I am very glad the book portrays the intervention of professional adults, and then adds a post script about how individual children have raised funds to help animals affected by such disasters.

The story teaches children how vulnerable our planet is and how one event can effect the lives of many. It is a story of teamwork and compassion, to save the gulf and all the creatures that inhabit the region..


Book includes: audio CD and sing along song; a page of questions about the story; examples of children’s fundraising to help birds and animals affected by this oil spill.

A portion of sales from this book is being donated to the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC). More information on their work can be found at their website,

National geographic Kids has a number of articles about the oil spill. 

The National Wildlife Federation has a guide for parents and teachers about talking with kids about the Gulf Oil Spill

No Water off a Duck’s Back is a great experiment for kids about pollution from the Environment Protection Agency.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

This book has been provided to me free of charge by the author in exchange for an honest review of the work.

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12 Responses to Patti Pelican and The Gulf Oil Spill

  1. It looks like this book is self-published. How did you come across it? Seven Mooser talked at the SCBWI meeting I went to about how he felt self-published picture books are the hardest genre to get “out there.”

  2. Joanna says:

    Wendy, they are very hard to get ‘out there’. I receive review copies from publishers, traditionally published authors AND self-published authors. Actually, just before your comment I had added a Review Guidelines at the top of the blog, as I am getting enough requests now that I needed to do this. Quite often they are on niche topics that i am interested in, such as conservation.

  3. What a perfect choice to teach kids about polluting our environment and what can happen to wildlife. Kids at this age are very compassionate and have an interest in subjects like this — they are our future. I really appreciate your choice. And, I accept self-published books, because many are niche books that are really excellent, but the big publishers pass over. Glad you reviewed this book.

    • Joanna says:

      Thanks for your comment, Pat, and your thoughts on reviewing self-published books. I do not want to exclude reviewing a book for that reason.

  4. This seems like it would be a good lesson on the geography and vulnerability of this landscape too. Nice pick!

  5. What a great book about the worst natural disaster. That should not have happened. Great find, Joanna!

  6. Joanna says:

    It’s important not to forget such preventable disasters too quickly, Catherine!

  7. I love this book! It has an awesome message!

  8. Wow, and this story could very well relate to the spill we had here on our eastern shores. Wonderful idea to help kids understand the serious effect it has on our environment. Great review, Joanna.

  9. Joanna…thanks for sharing a book that might otherwise not have come to our attention. Fortunately, self-published books are becoming more appreciated, even by traditional publishers who sometimes scoop them up after they have come out. I’m glad you are not adverse to reviewing them. 🙂

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