Sometimes an education in books requires an extremely popular book that most people know already, but could use several more reads. This is my favorite Olivia book, possibly because it uses the “it was a dark and stormy night” line with aplomb. Or possibly it is because we can all see some of Olivia in our accusatory way of asking “WHAT DID YOU DO WITH MY TOY?” We all do that, and kids recognize it well. My daughter said last night, “She’s not even asking them,” by which I think she meant that Olivia just wanted to yell about her toy and wasn’t waiting for answers. In fact, she knew Ian and William didn’t take her toy.
Ian Falconer is expert at drawing characters, both with prose and illustration. Olivia is persistent, demanding, precocious, while Ian is quiet and intimidated. William gives the best line in the book, “Wooshee gaga,” and Mommy is mature and practical, while Daddy is indulgent in offering to buy another toy–the best one ever. But he does not get away with this completely, as the pictures show Mommy’s look and William’s mess. Even Olivia goes on to fix her best toy, showing that Daddy’s showy generosity could not surpass her own ability to solve her problem.
For younger children, this book can be used to teach feelings and facial expressions. For older children, talk about humour, ironyand forgiveness (of Perry).