I'm still trying to digest the mysterious writing of picture books. Most weeks, I pick up a stack from the library to study and I'm slowly compiling a list of favorites. I usually choose books based on recommendations but sometimes inspiration comes from unconventional places. Like a recent Jeopary show, when the answer to a clue was "What is Olivia?" Olivia, in case you're a picture book deprived soul, is Ian Falconer's hysterical piglet. She embodies a somewhat pampered, self-absorbed young girl with a short attention span. Olivia manipulates her younger brothers when she needs instruments for her one-man band, tortures her parents when her favorite toy goes missing and quickly forgives the dog for chewing it up. In other words, Olivia' a pretty normal six-year-old girl.
Maybe because I 've never had a child to read to, the picture books I'm drawn to offer humor adults can relate to. It's hard not to laugh at Falconer's illustrations, rendered in simple lines and minimal color. He expertly captures the expressions of bewildered parents and a fierce, imaginative child. In Olivia and the Missing Toy, Olivia begs for a new soccer shirt. Her mother spends the day sewing it, tormented by Olivia's impatience to have it done. When her mother finally presents the shirt, Olivia is too enthralled in a book to look up at the forgotten shirt.
There are ten Olivia books, including the original Olivia, a Caldecott Honor book. I'd like to have them all and I'd like to personally thank Falconer for his piglet. To read more about Olivia and Falconer, visit his website here. You can also catch Olivia's animated series on Nick, Jr.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist. I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti of Dunham Lit.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor