Today in the library, one of my favourite colleagues experienced Olivia for the first time. He’s a few years from retirement but obviously that’s no reason not to pick up a picture book and start reading during grade 6 book exchange. He found Olivia goes to Venice and a few minutes later, he was laughing out loud. Earlier in the day, I’d read the original Olivia to a group of five-year-olds. Same reaction. That’s one of the things I love most about Ian Falconer’s beloved character. She appeals to kids and grown ups alike. While some of the jokes in the newest Olivia offering are likely to go over kids’ heads, I’d say that there’s still plenty to entertain everyone in Olivia and the Fairy Princesses.
Don’t let that pretty pink cover fool you, Olivia is not buying into the princess craze. She does not want to be like everybody else. While the other pigs wear fluffy skirts and sparkles and crowns, Olivia makes a statement in matador pants, a sailor shirt, and black flats. She doesn’t understand why it always has to be all about pink princesses. Can’t people get a little creative? Olivia is trying very hard to cultivate a “stark, modern style,” but it seems that it isn’t entirely working for her. Don’t fret, she figures it out, with trademark piggy panache.
As expected, there’s plenty of drama in Falconer’s illustrations. They’re wonderfully stylish and droll. While I never thought I’d utter the words “corporate malfeasance” and “identity crisis” during kindergarten storytime, I’m sure I can make it work, because as always, there’s a little something for everyone whenever Olivia gets up to her usual tricks. Clever, charming, and crowd-pleasing, Olivia always stands out.
Olivia and the Fairy Princesses is published by Atheneum.