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Olivia and the Littering Crowd

Olivia y los “tirabasuras”

Written by Erika Deery | Illustrated by Eva Rosas Angeles | Translated by Tania Pineda-Stuart

[ English / Inglés ] 

Olivia Heart was a very clever girl. She always had good grades and she never got messy. Olivia cared about animals and nature. She loved all the flowers and all the trees. Because of this, she always put her rubbish in the right bin. In fact, there was one thing she despised the most: littering.

Olivia was also very shy.  She wouldn’t raise her hand in class, even if she knew the answer. She wouldn’t do sports because she was afraid to lose and she would never try anything new. 

One Sunday, after her sister’s soccer game, all the children were cheering for winning the match. Then, Michael Ruther did the unthinkable. He threw an empty bag of lollies on the ground. Olivia was annoyed, but she was too shy to say anything. She went home thinking, “How can Michael be so gross?”

The next weekend, she went on a bike ride with her family. They sat down on their picnic rug to eat some snacks. Next to them, there was a very loud group of kind of old but kind of young people, with their music and their food. As they packed up, they left behind their rubbish! “The bins are just there,” she thought. “Twenty steps, that’s all it takes,” she muttered under her breath.  Every piece of rubbish Olivia picked up made her feel angrier. She took the rubbish to the bins and dumped them with exasperation. But still, she didn’t say anything aloud. Olivia just thought, “Aren’t grown ups supposed to know better?”

The week after that, it was finally summer. Olivia and her family went to the beach. She loved the smell of sunscreen mixed with the smell of the sea. The beach was packed. It was as if the entire city had decided to go to the same beach at the same time! 

And what did Olivia see?

An empty can of soda, a broken glass bottle and even a dirty nappy! She turned to the left, she turned to the right, all she could see was rubbish. Nobody seemed to care.  Olivia’s face suddenly felt as hot as fire, her heart was beating fast and her fists started to clench.


She let out the most furious scream.  She couldn’t believe what she just did.  Her parents couldn’t believe it. Her sister couldn’t believe it. Olivia was always so quiet that nobody thought she could even be this loud.

Something had unleashed in her. “Can’t you see how disgusting this is?” she said with her loudest voice while she picked up the nappy. “Can I ask you please, people at the beach, to just take your rubbish to the bin? How hard can it be?” As silence ensued, and everyone looked at her, Olivia felt extremely embarrassed. A moment later, a young man sitting a few meters away said, “The little girl is right”.  Getting up, he took his rubbish away. Soon, other people followed, and the beach looked way cleaner. 

That day, Olivia realised that sometimes we get angry when we believe something is unfair.  She now knew that speaking her mind was one of the most courageous things she could ever do - especially if she saw anyone littering!

. . .


Español / Spanish ]

Olivia Heart era una niña muy inteligente. Siempre sacaba buenas calificaciones y nunca se ensuciaba.  Olivia cuidaba de los animales y la naturaleza, amaba todas las flores y todos los árboles, siempre ponía la basura en su lugar, y de hecho había algo que detestaba al máximo: ver a la gente tirar basura.

Olivia también era muy tímida. En clase no levantaba la mano aunque supiera la respuesta correcta. No practicaba deportes porque temía perder, y nunca intentaba hacer cosas nuevas. 

Un domingo, después del juego de fútbol de su hermana, todos los niños gritaban, animando el partido para ganar.  Y luego, Michael Ruther hizo algo impensable: tiró una bolsa de caramelos vacía en el suelo.  Olivia se molestó, pero era demasiado tímida como para decir algo, así que regresó a su casa pensando: “¿Cómo puede Michael ser tan asqueroso?” 

El fin de semana siguiente, Olivia salió de paseo en bicicleta con su familia.  Se sentaron en su manta de picnic para comer, y a su lado vieron a un grupo de gente, medio joven y medio vieja. Tenían su propia música y su propia comida, y cuando empacaron y se fueron, ¡dejaron tirada su basura!  

“Los contenedores están ahí mismo,” pensó Olivia, “¡solo están a veinte pasos!” dijo entre dientes. Cada basura que recogía hacía a Olivia enfurecer cada vez más. Tomó toda la basura y la tiró en el contenedor exasperada, pero aún así no dijo nada en voz alta, Olivia solo pensó para si misma: “¿no se supone que los los adultos saben más que los niños?” 

A la semana siguiente, finalmente llegó el verano y Olivia y su familia se fueron a la playa. Le encantaba el olor del protector solar mezclado con el olor del mar. La playa estaba llena de gente. ¡Como si la ciudad entera hubiese decidido ir a la playa al mismo tiempo! 

¿Pero qué vio Olivia? 

¡Una lata de gaseosa vacía, una botella de vidrio rota y hasta un pañal sucio! Vio a la izquierda, vio a la derecha y todo lo que veía era basura. A nadie parecía importarle. La cara de Olivia empezó a arder como el fuego, su corazón comenzó a latir muy rápido y empezó a apretar sus puños. Y dio un grito furioso.


No podía creer lo que acababa de hacer, sus padres no podían creerlo, su hermana no lo creía. Por lo general, Olivia era tan callada que era difícil creer que fuese capaz de hablar así de fuerte. 

Algo se había liberado dentro de ella. “¿No ven lo asqueroso que es esto?” dijo mientras recogía el pañal con la voz más fuerte de la que era capaz. “¿Puedo pedirles a todos ustedes, visitantes de la playa, que por favor lleven su basura al contenedor? ¿Qué tan difícil es eso?” 

A medida notó el silencio y que todos la veían, Olivia se sintió extremadamente avergonzada. Un momento después, un joven que estaba sentado a unos metros dijo: “La niñita tiene razón.” Y al levantarse, se llevó su basura. Luego, le siguieron otras personas y la playa comenzó a verse más limpia. 

Ese día, Olivia se dio cuenta que a veces sentimos enojo cuando creemos que algo es injusto. Ahora sabía que alzar la voz y decir lo que se piensa, puede ser es uno de sus más valientes acciones. ¡Especialmente si ve a alguien tirar basura! 

    Erika Deery

    Erika is a Mexican children’s book author and illustrator.  She enjoys creating characters and giving them a personality. Through her books, Erika fosters children’s sense of curiosity, exploration and imagination. 

    See more of Erika's stories

    Eva Rosas Angeles

    Eva is a Mexican illustrator who found “her place” in Australia four years ago after traveling through it for a year. Her work is a projection of her soul, the colour of her culture; each illustration always has something of her personal history.

    view more of Eva's work

    Tania Pineda-Stuart

    Tania is a NAATI certified Spanish Interpreter and Translator who practices in the public and private sector. She is also a singer, a solution seeker, a maker and is passionate about fostering relationships, enabling communication/collaborations and telling stories.

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