Review: Olivia the Spy

Posted on April 20, 2017

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Olivia the Spy
By Ian Falconer
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
April 2017
40 pages

After a five-year absence from the literary stage Olivia, the usually flamboyant dancing pig makes a surreptitious return. In this episode, Olivia and her mother are having issues. Olivia is offended when she eavesdrops on her mother complaining to her aunt about the mess she made out of a blueberry smoothie and the time she turned her dad’s shirts pink in the laundry. The plucky little pig goes undercover to investigate what else her mother is saying about her. But when she overhears the words “military school” and “institution” she is devastated and believes her parents are sending her away. One day her mother announces they are going on a special surprise trip. A crestfallen Olivia packs up her “few pitiful possessions” and prepares for the worst. Boy was she wrong! The surprise turns out to be a trip to the ballet where the audacious Olivia inadvertently steals center stage. Falconer’s trademark charcoal and gouache illustrations expose the hilarity of the unfolding situation from Olivia’s theatrics to her over-active imagination to the priceless expressions on the characters’ faces. Olivia the Spy is a smart, funny story that shows the perils of eavesdropping and offers a heads up to parents to stop and think about how we talk about our kids.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Peggy Tibbetts

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