Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses

Booklist (August 2012 (Vol. 108, No. 22))

Preschool-Grade 1. 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.

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