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.
Could there be a more ideal place for Olivia than in the center ring under the Big Top? It will come as no surprise to her many fans that this is how Olivia claims to have spent her summer vacation. Using the same day-in-the-life format as his show-stopping debut (Olivia), Falconer shows Olivia making pancakes for her two brothers (including new addition William) before school. "This is a big help to her mother," accompanies a picture of utter chaos in the kitchen. The heroine adds her signature red accoutrements to her "really boring uniform," then heads to the classroom where it's her turn to tell about her summer ("Olivia always blossoms in front of an audience"); she holds both teacher and students (and readers) rapt as she describes her trip to the circus. "All the circus people were out sick with ear infections," says Olivia. "Luckily I knew how to do everything." Falconer outdoes himself with theatrical scenes of the diminutive leading lady teetering on top of an elephant's head, walking on stilts and, in a four-page fold-out spread, as "Queen of the Trampoline" flying off the trapeze and somersaulting in the air (the outline of her porkish figure trapped in the trampoline netting is worth the price of admission). He once again demonstrates how attuned he is to the way a child thinks when, at the very end of her share, in tiny typeface, Olivia tacks on a shred of truth, "Then one time my dad took me sailing The End." This star's numerous spectators can only hope that she will have many encores. Ages 3-7. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
PreS-Gr 2-Just one year after the auspicious debut of a precocious, multitalented young piglet comes an encore performance. The circus performers are sick with ear infections, but, luckily for all, Olivia knows "how to do everything." She walks on stilts, juggles, clowns, walks the tightrope, and tames the lions. Best of all, in a spectacular double gatefold, she is Flying Olivia (trapeze artist) and Olivia, Queen of the Trampoline. The presentation of these two acts as one gracefully flowing motion from trapeze to trampoline to trapeze is a virtuoso performance graphically as well. The story of the little pig at the circus is framed within the context of a school day when it is the youngster's turn to tell about her summer vacation, and, as we know already, "Olivia always blossoms in front of an audience." The endpapers, front matter, and first pages of the story repeat motifs from the earlier book. Charcoal-and-line drawings are brilliantly accented with the piglet's flair for red clothing and accessories. When Olivia's imagination takes over at the circus, the bright-red accents change to a softer, peachy-pink hue. As in Olivia (Atheneum, 2000), the tone is witty and understated. Dialogue is minimal, but nonetheless brimming with humorous undertones. This story is more complex than the first, and, in a few instances, one wishes for smoother narrative transitions. However, Falconer has successfully sustained and built upon his delightfully original portrayal of the feisty Olivia, her vivid imagination, and her strong sense of self.-Dorian Chong, School of Library and Information Science, San Jose State University, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.