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Olivia . . . and the Missing Toy


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About the Author

When not telling Olivia's story Ian Falconer designs sets and costumes for the New York City Ballet, the San Francisco Opera, and the Royal Opera House in London. He lives in New York City.


K-Gr 3-Olivia is back, the indomitable individualist now coaxing her mother to make her a new soccer uniform in red, not the "really unattractive green" of the rest of the team. During the sewing session, Olivia's stuffed animal disappears and the fearless piglet must solve the mystery. She eventually tracks it down, but it is now in pieces, courtesy of the dog. Olivia's tears are surprisingly easily diverted by her father's glib promise from behind the newspaper to replace it with "the very best toy in the whole world," but the independent protagonist resews it herself and even improves on the original. Once again, the illustrations are stylish and witty, now extended by the addition of green to Falconer's trademark charcoal-and-gouache black, white, and red palette. The inclusion of photographic reproductions (the sphinx in a dream and Martha Graham on the bedroom wall) adds a nice contrast, and the endpapers show a comic strip of the little pig trying to get her toy to sit up. The changes in the size of the typeface to indicate volume of speech as Olivia interrogates her little brothers, and as her distress escalates, are hilarious. But the plot meanders a little, and it seems as though Falconer is letting style overtake story. Olivia is in danger of starting to appear more like a bratty bully than the charming nonconformist we know and love. Still, her many fans will enjoy this latest adventure of the piglet turned detective.-Jane Barrer, Washington Square Village Creative Steps, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

The porcine star who burst onto the children's books stage in black and white-plus her favorite color, red-is back! Here Falconer adds green to his palette and mystery to the plot for this third adventure featuring the incomparable Olivia. However, "green is not Olivia's color." So she entreats her mother to make a red soccer jersey to replace her team's green one. "But then you'll look different from everyone else on the team," says her mother. "That's the point," retorts the heroine in an oversize font. While her mother sews, Olivia's beloved green-and-red toy (who makes a comical cameo appearance in a wordless vignette on the endpapers) disappears with the turn of a page. (A clue appears in the lower right-hand corner of the illustration, where the toy is last seen.) It won't give away the fun to say that Perry-the spotted, panting pooch introduced in Olivia and who bears a certain resemblance to the sidekicks in the "Madame Olivia and her Trained Dogs" act in Olivia Saves the Circus-plays a bigger role in this episode. Once again Falconer nails common three-year-old parlance and posture. As Olivia shouts, "Where's my toy? It was right there on the bed. I just put it there. I remember exactly. That's my best toy. I need it!" the audience assumes the viewpoint of her mother, staring down into the protagonist's gaping mouth. Though it hardly seems possible, Falconer's visual and verbal narrative talents continue to grow. And so will Olivia's devotees. Ages 3-7. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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