Children’s book by CCHS art teacher breaks plight of parrots to life

By Michael Howlett Staff Writer

December 15, 2013

The plight of injured parrots and those turned loose once the owners can’t care for them any longer is brought to life in a new children’s book written by Karol Marsden and illustrated by her sister, Freda Cole, the art teacher at Carroll County High School.

“Bella’s Perfect Home,” tells the story of a parrot who is injured during a storm and nursed back to health by the family who finds her. It is based on a true story experienced by Jennifer Dermer, founder of the World Parrot Mission. A chance meeting with Dermer led Marsden, who lives in Key Largo, Fla., to begin writing a story about such a parrot. She then, she has reached out to Cole to provide the artwork.

“She gave me the story and I sat on it for about two years,” said Cole. “I was teaching pottery and wasn’t inspired to painting at the time. When I started working at Carroll County High School, I began teaching the art of illustration so I began to work on paintings for the book.”

Cole said although it took her “six to eight months” to complete all the illustrations, the hard part was getting the book published, which took between “eight and 10 months.”

“We got so discouraged because we kept getting back proofs that weren’t that good, but we’re finally pleased with the color,” said Cole, who added that she got encouragement from her students, who also helped name the book.

The first printing of 100 books is already sold and the sisters have placed an order for 100 more. If the book continues to do well, there may be others.

“My sister has already started the second book; she sees it as a series,” said Cole. “If things go well, we’ll go through with it.”

In “Bella’s Perfect Home,” the parrot is nursed back to health by a boy and his family. However, since parrots, just like people, stay in touch with their extended families, soon there are a whole flock of parrots at the boy’s home. It is then that Bella must decide to stay at her new home or leave with her family.

Although the story of Bella is beautiful and touching, it is also meant to give more insight to the caring of a parrot.

“We want it to be educational because having a parrot is like having a two-year-old child to take care of,” said Cole. “They are beautiful birds, but people don’t realize the commitment involved.”

For that reason, Cole and Marsden are donating 10 percent of all their profits to the World Parrot Mission, which seeks to educate people about parrots and discourage them from keeping parrots as pets.

Books may be purchased by calling Cole at 540-320-6252, or emailing her at