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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Olivia -- the piglet (Ian Falconer)

While going through my research files (now at the University of Iowa Special Collections, Iowa City, Iowa)   I came across a note I had made about Olivia by Ian Falconer.  Falconer is well-known in the world of theater design but since 2001 he has made his mark as a children's book author/illustrator with the first book in his multi-book series about Olivia, a piglet who goes about life doing the things she wants to do.

In an interview with Katie Couric on the Today Show (Friday October 26, 2001) Falconer recounted how he came to write about Olivia.  The books began as a Christmas present to his niece, Olivia, then 3-years old.  When he was courted by a publishing house to write and illustrate a picture book he has them all ready.  his books use only three colors: red, white, and black.  Falconer stated that since he uses only  three basic colors children are able to focus more on what is in the picture and pay attention to expressions and details.

In fact he often puts details in his books that are intended to build an attentive reader's curiosity and inquisitiveness.  In Olivia Saves the Circus, he slips in a Degas painting, and a picture of Eleanor Roosevelt  hanging over Olivia's bed.  He hopes that parents/adults will discuss those images with young readers and that those bits of discussion will help readers connect to even more information as they become older students.  But perhaps my favorite title is Olivia Helps with Christmas.  Perhaps that would be a great pre-Christmas book for that primary aged reader. Check out more about the Olivia books at

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