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Throughout the Olivia books, Falconer's hammy piglet has played such roles as circus performer, experimental music dynamo, and fashionista. She opens this delightful installment declaring, "I think I'm having an identity crisis.... I don't know what I should be!" When her father chirps, "You'll always be my little princess," Olivia mopes, "All the girls want to be princesses," and so do "a couple of the boys." Falconer pictures his heroine defying crowds of pink-tutu'd, wand-waving look-alikes by sporting a voguish sailor shirt and Wintouresque black sunglasses; Olivia later dresses as a blue warthog at a Halloween party ("It was very effective"). And while other dancers compete to become a fairy princess ballerina, Olivia opines, "I'm trying to develop a more stark, modern style," letting loose with a series of dramatic poses in a stretchy charcoal-gray fabric tube (the book's dedication: "With deepest apologies to Martha Graham"). Olivia stubbornly dresses in red-and-white-striped long johns, resists damsel-in-distress bedtime stories, and lies awake considering philanthropic lines of work. Lest this be seen as pure propaganda, however, Olivia's ultimate career decision places everything in perspective: "I want to be queen." Not all will be persuaded to join the pink princess backlash, but it's a start. Ages 3-7. Agent: Conrad Rippy, Levine Plotkin & Menin. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal
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PreS-Gr 2-Olivia is back and as strong-willed as ever in this rumination on individuality. The usually upbeat piglet is depressed. "I think I'm having an identity crisis." All of the children in her class want to be princesses. In pink, "...even some of the boys." But Olivia likes to be unique. "Why not an Indian princess.or an African princess.."? For the ballet recital, everyone wants to be the fairy princess. But Olivia is "trying to develop a more stark, modern style." The hilarious attempt results in a series of spot illustrations of Olivia in a dark tube dress, posing in different positions, a la Martha Graham. For Halloween, she is a warthog. And she has had enough of fairy tales with princesses. At last, she realizes what she wants to be: Queen, of course! Falconer's trademark use of minimalistic color to make Olivia stand out from the crowd is in full force here. His visual humor underscores his punch lines and illustrates Olivia's imagination. Showcasing words like "treatments" and "corporate malfeasance," the text will occasionally go over youngsters' heads, and the subtle, sophisticated humor is pitched at adults as well as children. Falconer's witty parent-child banter will resonate with listeners old and young alike. Anyone who is afraid of challenging words and complex ideas should stay away, but parents looking for a way to expand their children's minds with more than a few chuckles along the way will find this story just the ticket. More please.-Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Olivia is depressed. She sees that individuality counts for little in her world. Every other piggy girl (and some of the boys) all like to dress as sparkling fairy princesses. She, however, prefers a French sailor shirt, matador pants, red bag, pearls, and a gardening hat. Wherever she turns ballets, books, bedtime stories there are princesses. After she spends the night pondering what she can be other than a princess, the last page shows her glorious answer. She has made the leap to queen. The text has some funny moments when Olivia disdains a happily-ever-after story, her mother switches to The Little Match Girl but as with previous books, most of the fun comes from the delicious artwork executed in signature charcoal perked up with reds. Here the high points include Olivia as four different kinds of costumed princess (Thai, African, Indian, and Chinese); a two-page spread of dancer Olivia eschewing tutus, dressed as Martha Graham in Lamentation; and Queen Olivia at the balcony. There are also some strong messages here about individuality and reinventing yourself according to your own vision. It's an idea you're never to young to learn. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Olivia is a successful franchise now, but quality remains high. Fans will be pleased with this addition to the series.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist