Bubba and the Sweet Pea


Bubba and the Sweet Pea is a lovely little book that tells the tale of Bubba the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo who, after all his feathers have fallen out, goes in search of Uriah the Great Eagle. Uriah has the power to grant any wish, and Bubba wants his feathers back!

Along the way, Bubba meets some new friends who share precious gifts with him:

  • Alex the Giraffe
  • Tilley the Hummingbird
  • Tricia the Seahorse
  • Symes the Lizard

By the end of his adventures, Bubba comes to understand that it is not his feathers that make him beautiful, it is what is inside that really counts: he is special just as he is.  Tricia the Seahorse sums it up:

“My sparkle comes from within me, from my heart.”

That is the lesson we all need to learn: child or adult, feathered or scaled. We carry our sparkle wherever we go;  we are all beautiful, just as we are! Even as adults we can use this gentle reminder, but it is particularly important for children to learn – especially those who have their own challenges to work through – and Bubba and the Sweet Pea teaches the lesson sweetly and eloquently.

PS. Parrots love it, too! Here is Rebecca’s Cockatoo, Lucy. Rebecca writes, “Lucy made her little happy beepy sound as I read Bubba’s story to her. We feel his light!”

Lucy and Bubba (photograph used with permission from Rebecca).

If you would like to purchase your own copy of Bubba and the Sweet Pea, please visit  www.gladysboutros.com. It definitely holds a special place on my own bookshelf! A copy (or two!) would also make a wonderful donation to your local library, school or children’s hospital.

Note: A special thank you to Gloria and the Parrot Resource Centre for providing me with my review copy of Bubba and the Sweet Pea.

The real Bubba and his sweet pea!


The story behind Bubba and the Sweet Pea

Written by Australian author Glady Boutros and richly illustrated by Andras Balough, the book was inspired by Gladys’ Sulphur-crested Cockatoo’s battle with PBFD (beak & feather disease). PBFD is a virus which attacks the immune system and their cells, causing birds to lose their feathers and develop beak abnormalities. PBFD is a fatal disease.

Bubba and Gladys share a loving moment.

As with many books, the special creatures Bubba meets along the way have been named after special people in Bubba’s life. Gladys shares her inspiration:

Dr Alex Rosenwax was Bubba’s vet and ultimately became a family friend.

Tricia McCagh, Animal Whisperer, “walked into our lives a stranger and became a Forever Friend.”

Francis was named after Gladys’ young nephew, who would claim (much to Gladys’ astonishment) that Bubba was only beautiful without his feathers. Also, the name Francis references St. Francis of Assisi, who walked the earth with a great love of all animals.

Dr Ross Perry had a dearly loved PBFD Sulphur-crested Cockatoo named Tilley (now passed). Dr Ross gave the Boutros hope while caring for Bubba.

Symes is the nickname Gladys calls her beloved husband, Simon. Bubba adored Simon: he would distract Simon from doing his work while he was in his home office, and Simon would play the guitar for Bubba, who you could see tenderly feeling the music. When Simon attempted to leave home for work, Bubba would run after him to the front door pleading with him to stay.

The name of Uriah means ‘the light of the Lord’. It can either refer to faith in a higher purpose or power; or, it can refer to a person’s instinct or conscience deep within that one turns to in time of need.

Gladys’ mission is to raise awareness and funds for further research of Beak and Feather Disease, as well as help children with challenges of self worth issues: through her story, children can learn the true meaning of “inner beauty”. 100% profits will be donated to these causes.

Towards that end, Gladys is currently in contact with the leading researchers of PBFD in both the USA & Australia, as well as an organisation for low self esteem. She has also approached Oncology hospitals for children who are dealing with cancer and leukemia, with the attempt to donate books to them.

An interview with Gladys (provided by the author)

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?

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.


How did you get the idea to turn your experience into a children’s book?

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.

Bubba enjoying a snack

During your journey of writing, what was the one thing that impacted you most?

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.

Tell us a bit about PBFD:

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.

How can readers purchase Bubba & The Sweet Pea?

  • 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.


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