I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Olivia is a gorgeous little pig who likes to dress up, sing songs, dance, think, snooze and is even quite good at building sandcastles. At the end of the day, when she snuggles up in bed and her mother reads her a story (or three), Olivia feels very full of love. (source)
This story is absolutely adorable. I had read it as a kid, but, as with No, David!, it was published at a point when I had moved beyond picture books, so this was never a childhood favorite for me. But as an adult, I think this is SO cute.
As Falconer expertly conveys, Olivia is a young piglet who is extremely creative and has a strong independent streak. She loves to express herself, and, while her mother encourages this, sometimes she does need to be guided a bit. The text for the story is simple but sweet - it can stand alone - but the illustrations add the perfect touch. The facial expressions alone are priceless. Falconer uses a very simple color scheme consisting only of white, black, and grays with a touch of red accents, but for this story, the simplicity works very well.
In my review of No, David!, I mentioned that I didn't like how David's mother seemed to only interact with him in order to discipline him. The parenting style shown in Olivia is very different. While Olivia's father seems to be just as absent as David's is, her mother spends all day with Olivia and her brother. She takes them to the beach and the art museum and reads them stories at night. She is actively involved in their lives, and while that does involve disciplining them when necessary, it is very clear that Olivia's mother's role in her life is multi-faceted.
Some of my classmates felt that this book portrayed a family that is too affluent for the average child to relate to. I would definitely agree that Olivia's family is probably on the more wealthy end of the spectrum - her parents can apparently afford for her mother to be a stay-at-home mom, which is becoming increasingly rare, and they can afford to take trips that appear to be expensive (though, after doing a bit of research, I found that while adult admission to the Met is $25, kids go for free, so that's not really too unmanageable). Some of my classmates were critical of the book for presenting what they viewed as an exclusive segment of society. I personally think that these criticisms are a bit picky. It is certainly true that Olivia is a privileged little girl. However, her interests and behavior could be shared by little girls of all economic classes. She loves to dress up, she dreams of performing, she likes art, and she loves when her mommy reads to her. It's true that Olivia probably has more opportunities that many children have, but at her core, she's just a normal little girl. I think that this is what matters.
I loved reading this story and I'm so glad that it was on my class reading list this semester. I borrowed it from the library for class, but I fully intend to purchase my own copy of the book as soon as possible. If you have a little girl who loves to be creative and use her imagination, I recommend reading this to her. It's a lovely story!