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Olivia Hardcover – Oct 1 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 103 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Oct. 1 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689829531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689829536
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 1.3 x 27.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 103 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #60,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Olivia would be Eloise, if Eloise were a pig. She is good at singing 40 very loud songs and is very good at wearing people out. And scaring the living daylights out of her little brother, Ian, particularly when he copies her every move. She is also quite skilled at reproducing Jackson Pollock's "Autumn Rhythm #30" on the walls at home. When her mother tucks her in at night and says, "You know, you really wear me out. But I love you anyway," Olivia precociously pronounces, "I love you anyway too."

The New Yorker artist Ian Falconer's endearing charcoal portraits of his porcine heroine are spotted with fire-engine red gouache in all the right places--perhaps a tribute to Hilary Knight's red, pink, white, and black celebrations of Olivia's human counterpart? When she dresses up, the bow on her ears, her red lipstick, and her high-heeled shoes are all red. (The only time her shades-of-gray body is pink is when she is sunburned and the area where her bathing suit was is white!) Falconer does a fine job of letting the spare text set up the jokes for the visual punch lines--a dryly humorous interplay that adults will appreciate as much as children.

Preschoolers (and their parents) will see themselves in Olivia--a typical high-energy, over-the-top kid who likes the beach and Degas paintings, but hates naps. On the other hand, she combs her ears and is unusually gifted at sandcastle building. While we are certainly reminded of Eloise, Falconer's portrait is simpler in scope, less demented, and, as a result, less adult. Bottom line: precocious is fun, and we're tickled pink to have Olivia join the parade of, let's just say, individualistic youngsters. (Ages 4 to 8) --Karin Snelson

From Publishers Weekly

Come one, come all for this extraordinary debut for both Falconer and his unforgettable porcine heroine. The author/artist begins this day-in-the-life tale with a kind of behind-the-scenes peek at Olivia. Articles from her wardrobe are strewn across the endpapers-red tights, red sunglasses, a red T-shirt and red tank top-until the title page reveals her selection: a red sailor dress with black-and-white striped tights. "This is Olivia./ She is good at lots of things," the narrator begins, like an emcee introducing the star of the show. The genius of the volume is its economy: the brief text brilliantly plays off the artwork, rendered only in shades of red and black with an occasional background setting; a deceptively simple design unifies each spread. For one such spread, demonstrating "She is very good at wearing people out," Falconer shows Olivia engaged in a variety of activities in 13 black-and-white vignettes, using red sparingly-for a hammer handle, a yo-yo, a ball, a mixing bowl spatula and a jump rope-as she progresses from energetic to spent. Against a completely white background, these vignettes seem to bob on invisible undulating waves, with the intermittent splashes of red creating a sense of movement and urgency-until Olivia's collapse at the lower right-hand corner of the spread beneath a single line of text ("She even wears herself out"). The few full scenes amplify the deadpan humor: a beach setting allows for the full impact of Olivia's spectacular sandcastle model of the Empire State Building; a full-bleed black-and-white image of a tutu- and tiara-clad Olivia bowing to unseen fans answers the narrator's question "What could she be thinking?" as she stares at her favorite painting, featuring Degas's ballerinas, in a museum. Whether in full scenes or vignettes, Falconer keeps the focus on his inimitable protagonist. He clearly understands his audience: a standout spread shows Olivia getting dressed in her red-only wardrobe ("She has to try on everything") in 17 separate fashion poses. Falconer's choice to suggest Olivia with a minimum of details and a masterful black line allows readers to really identify with her-no doubt, they will. There's a little bit of Olivia in everyone. Ages 3-7. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Yes, Ian Falconer is a noted illustrator and the pictures are nice. It's cute---BUT---- there are a thousand other books about cute, naughty little pigs, cows, chickens, etc out there!
This one was lucky enough to be written by someone with enough publishing connections to get hyped to death. All the library and trade journals had HUGE ads touting this book, and as a result, demand is high. I'm going to have to buy every durned Olivia book that comes along the pike for the next few years. But this is not the fabulous, marvelous masterpiece people are making it out to be! The best picture books in general have text and pictures that work together. Take away the illustrations in Olivia, and there'd be nothing there.
As someone else said, borrow it from your library--we could use the circulation and your tax dollars pay for stuff like this.
And while you're at it, take a look at Lillian Hoban's Frances books, Kevin Henkes's books about Lily and all the other really great books that will be around for years to come. I doubt that these will.
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Format: Hardcover
Ian Falconer has done many an amusing cover for "The New Yorker" in his day, so it is only fitting that he be responsible for the most New York-inspired children's book since Eloise decided to wreck havoc in the Piazza. For those of you who have never met the charming Olivia, this is probably the best book to begin with. Less pretentious than its sequels, in it you meet Olivia, her family, and her penchant for extravagant imaginings. Drawn in beautifully shaded black and white, this particular tale is dotted with brilliant flashes of Olivia's red belongings. Her adventures are quite tame. Following the day to day adventures of an average child, the viewer views Olivia going to the beach, into her closet, to the museum, and at last to bed.
Reviewer Dwight Garner recently noted in his New York Times Book Review that, " 'Olivia' is one of those kids' books... that hip mommies and daddies like to give to the children of other hip mommies and daddies in order to demonstrate, yet again, what delightfully hip mommies and daddies we all are". There's no denying that this book is decidedly hip. I've yet to see a mom in a children's book look as particularly metropolitan (read: New Yorkish) as Olivia's black clad momma. And when Olivia creates a castle, she doesn't go halfway. She creates a sand-skyscraper. Mr. Garner does bring up an interesting point, though. Is "Olivia" something kids actually love and hold dear to their hearts, or is it something that parents love and hope their kids will get into? Who doesn't want their children to be inspired by a character that reads about Maria Callas before she goes to bed?
I don't know how kids feel about the story. But what I do know is that it's a quality piece of work. The art is beautiful. The story sublime. Plus it's a riot.
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By A Customer on Aug. 25 2001
Format: Hardcover
Okay, with a family of 7 (3 hyperactive) we just didn't need this book. This energetic/lively little pig was more than what we considered necessary. Although perhaps an impetus for sluggish children, this animal is not the best role model. The book truthfully, bores me. My kids don't choose it and we really didn't enjoy it -- even the first time. Sorry Olivia. And you're such a cute little pig.
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Format: Hardcover
Many people compare Olivia to Eloise. While that's certainly a possible model, the more obvious one to me is of Miss Piggy transformed into the setting of her family, rather than being with the Muppets. Olivia's all energy, all female, always dreaming of starring in the arts, and all ready for action. As such, she's a female role model of an upscale Dennis the Menace for the new Millennium.
The story takes you through Olivia's favorite activities. She loves to try on and change clothes, put on make-up, be active with her family and pets, and learn about the arts. Olivia clearly benefits from Ian Falconer's background as someone who paints, illustrates, and has done costume and set design for operas and ballet.
Olivia has four primary appeals for me. First, she is hilariously drawn . . . all head and ears with her snout sticking up in the air atop tiny legs and even smaller hind feet with her horizontally striped tights showing. Second, she is a whirling dervish with wonderful drawn sequences of many different illustrations on two page spreads that capture incredible energy and variation. Third, she is absolutely irrepressible . . . the kind of dauntless child that most parents would like to have. Stimulation . . . not a nap . . . is her need. You can imagine her running for president of the United States in a few years on the Fine Arts ticket. Fourth, there is a wonderful connection to fine art here that you can use to interest your child. The book includes reproductions of two paintings (one of dancers by Degas and a "drip" one by Jackson Pollock}, a book about Maria Callas, and references to Olivia painting, dancing, and singing an aria.
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By Jay on April 22 2002
Format: Hardcover
I don't see what the big deal about this book is. I found it to be a highly contrived story of a little girl who gets into a little bit of mischief. The girl, of course, takes on the appearance of a pig. The drawings are cute, and in my opinion served to show elementary kids that they can draw as well as a professional illustrator.
The story line was lacking and the organization of the text on the page could be confusing at times. Still, I found it to be cute enough that children would enjoy it as a read-aloud, but I still can't understand why it has achieved so much notoriety.
Why 3 stars?:
While it is a cute book, the story isn't very engaging. The illustrations are simple (which I like) and do not distract from the story, though they don't add a great amount either. I haven't found it to be greatly received by schoolchildren when I have read it and seen it used in classrooms. Unless you are a serious children's book collector - I would pass this one up - the hype is bigger than the type.
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