Written and Illustrated by Ian Falconer
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000
This is Olivia. She is good at lots of things.
The plot in a nutshell: A little girl keeps her mom (and herself) busy
Olivia is a little girl (who happens to be a pig) who throws herself into everything she does. She has a little brother named Ian who likes to copy her. She loves to get dressed up and tries on lots of different outfits before deciding which one she wants. She doesn’t like naps, but she does like dancing. At the museum, she has a favorite picture and one that she thinks she could paint herself at home (but she gets put in time-out when she tries painting it on the wall). At bedtime, she asks for five books, but her mother tells her she can only have one. Olivia negotiates her to three. Mother reads the books to Olivia and kisses her goodnight, telling her that she loves her, in spite of how much Olivia wears her out.
Author/illustrator Ian Falconer wrote the original book as a gift for his niece, Olivia. The book was very successful and spawned an additional ten books and an animated television series. In 2006, Olivia was featured on a US Postal Service stamp in the ‘Favorite Children’s Book Animals’ stamp set. I really like Olivia’s character, as she seems to be a fairly realistically portrayed child character, full of energy and imagination.
The artwork, in gouache and charcoal, is mostly in black, white and grey, with accents of red scattered throughout. When Olivia visits the museum, the two paintings that she looks at are actual paintings, recreated in photograph. The one she calls her favorite is an Edgar Degas ballet painting and the other, that she says she could do herself, is a Jackson Pollock. I think this is a neat touch. Mr. Falconer includes thumbnail pictures of the paintings on the acknowledgements page for those who are curious about this artwork.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that children can sometimes be a handful, but they are mostly a joy.