A new book is out, titled Bubba & The Sweet Pea. This beautifully illustrated childrens’ book tells the tale of Bubba, a cockatoo with the disease known as Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD). Bubba’s loving owner, Gladys Boutros, retells Bubba’s journey in a heart warming way that is easily palatable for kids and young adults. The story of Bubba tears at my heart not only as a bird owner, but also as someone who has struggled with a disability. Gladys uses a rich fairy-tale like setting to show readers that looks are looks are only skin deep, and encourage children to fight through the challenges of life and self worth, discovering what it means to be truly beautiful.
I had the opportunity to conduct a short interview with Gladys and learn more about her journey with Bubba.
Q: Your story of Bubba & The Sweet Pea was inspired by your time living with a cockatoo named Bubba. Can you tell us more about him?
A: Bubba was a sulpher-crested cockatoo who became a family member at the young age of 3 months old.
Bubba soon demanded most of our attention as his personality was loving, cheeky & very vibrant. He was a character that definitely claimed his place in our home, we adored him.
At about 8 months of age, we soon learned that Bubba was in fact born with PBFD. We were advised to put Bubba to sleep by a general vet but it was difficult for us to believe that it had to be a death sentence especially since Bubba was so full of life.
Bubba started off as a full feathered cockatoo and slowly became beautifully featherless. Bubba’s only signs of PBFD were his loss of feathers, so with the best avian specialists assisting us we chose life and decided that Bubba would choose his time to go.
Q: How did you get the idea to turn your experience into a children’s book?
A: When Bubba decided to give up his fight, I struggled with this loss. I believed that there was a purpose for his life but had not yet known what it was.
Whilst watching Bubba go through the changes because of PBFD, I often thought of how Bubba can be an advocate for beauty regardless of appearance. During Bubba’s life, those who knew Simon(my husband) and I soon had compassion toward Bubba, his disease and his changing appearence. In the back of my mind, began a growing desire to share the lesson of inner beauty. The story was created!
A story that will teach children the true meaning of inner beauty and value of self worth, and that may instill in them the confidence to manage challenges they may be faced with. Also, a story that will help me raise awareness and funds for the further research of PBFD, the disease that took our beloved Bubba from us.
Q: During your journey of writing, what was the one thing that impacted you most?
A: As Bubba had a great impact in my life, it was important for me to share with others that we can transform experiences that we may initially see as negative or painful into positive learnings. For this reason, in the story, when Bubba loses his feathers he later realized what was his loss was empowering to another.
Q: Tell us a bit about PBFD:
A: Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) is a virus which affects cockatoos and all species of parrots. The virus attacks the immune system and their cells, causing them to lose their feathers and develop beak abnormalities. PBFD is a fatal disease.
This is the simple explaination of PBFD, however, I do not claim to know all about PBFD I can only share my experience.
When we chose to live with PBFD, at times Bubba’s beak became brittle, his skin was dry and ultimately he lost all his feathers.
Ensuring a good quality of life, with the guidance of avian specialist, it was important for us to keep Bubba’s immune system strong through diet, warmth and vitamins.
And despite this horrid disease, Bubba felt safe and dearly loved.
Q: How can readers purchase Bubba & The Sweet Pea?
A: The book can be purchased at www.gladysboutros.com. In the near future, it will also be available in digital format on the Apple iBook store.