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Olivia Helps with Christmas Hardcover – October 2, 2007
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Olivia's Family Traditions
It did not matter how much discussion there was to be had with his editors during the process of creating Olivia Helps with Christmas, there was one thing that Ian Falconer was absolutely certain about... Santa Claus would appear NOWHERE in the book. Olivia and her brothers and sisters would do everything they could to get ready for Santa, and they sure would be anticipating Santa's arrival, but readers would not see the fabled Kriss Kringle. With all the ideas that were put on the table for this book, that was one Falconer would not stray from.
And with good reason.
This was to be a different type of Christmas book. A book about how a family celebrates Christmas, and how a lot of family holiday traditions really revolve around preparations. In fact, the reason the book has such a personal feel to it is because many of the traditions that Olivia and her family celebrate were taken straight from Ian's childhood memories: Being asked to set the Christmas table was a big honor for Ian (as it is for Olivia in the book). The caroling by the piano, the "Santa watch," the order in which things were done (tree up Christmas Eve, dinner, caroling, hanging stockings), even the phrase "warming your trotters by the fire"--all of it has roots in the Falconer home. And since Ian never did catch a glimpse of Santa at Christmas, neither could Olivia. It's for the best, really. Olivia likes to be the true star of her books--Santa would have met his match.
For your viewing pleasure: A bonus illustration of Olivia not available in Olivia Helps with Christmas!
About the Author
Ian Falconer is the author and illustrator of the Olivia book series. The character of Olivia—a precocious little pig who loves fashion, ballet, opera, and getting her own way—is based on Falconer's real-life niece. Falconer's illustrations have graced numerous covers of The New Yorker magazine. In addition, he has designed sets and costumes for the New York City Ballet, the San Francisco Opera, and the Royal Opera House, among others. He lives in Los Angeles.
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Top Customer Reviews
Each page tells its own story in a few lines. Olivia and family begin by getting a tree and coming home from shopping, then there is a page on Olivia helping put up the tree, feeding William the baby, peering up the chimney for Santa, putting up Christmas lights, setting the table, singing carols, setting out cookies for Santa, and so on till Christmas morning arrives and there are PRESENTS!!! All through the book are the charming touches and interludes that we love in Olivia books. I don't want to ruin them for you, but there were many scenes that made me laugh out loud!
In the more recent books, Olivia does something that drives the plot, and the story gains momentum in that way. This book feels more like the first Olivia book, where we are introduced to her and follow her through a number of separate activities in which she shows her great charm. It was hard for me to shift from expecting a little storyline to just enjoying the illustrations and the small touches of cleverness, and honestly I was a tiny bit disappointed at the lack of continuity through the book.
That said, if you go into it expecting a style more like the first one than the latest three, you will enjoy it a lot!
The pictures are clear and beautiful, Olivia's little brother Ian is really growing up and becoming a part of things, and Perry the dog's scene in which he "helps" Santa with the cookies is hilarious. I think parents and children alike will enjoy this charming little book. I am 28 years old and enjoy Olivia anyway (who says I am too old?), and this one is certainly going into my permanent collection for Christmas rereads.
From setting the dinner table to trimming the tree, from last-minute shopping to singing carols, Olivia and her family have a full day preparing for the holiday. When finally tucked into bed, Olivia cannot sleep; she is sure she hears Santa on the roof (but, alas, it is only a raccoon). Still, in the morning, Olivia and her little brothers find a pile of wonderful (skis!) and not-so-wonderful (sweaters and pajamas) gifts under the tree. They look forward to a day of playing together in the snow and a night of Nutcracker dreams. While Olivia is focused on the presents, she is also having fun just being with her family and adding her own touches to their holiday traditions.
Falconer's story and drawings are as charming as ever, and there is just as much for adults to enjoy here as there is for kids. This lovely book captures the energy, willfulness and imagination of children, as well as the weary patience of parents. OLIVIA HELPS WITH CHRISTMAS is a perfect holiday read, but it's sweet and funny enough to be savored at any time of the year.
--- Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman
Our precocious 2 year old definitely identifies with Olivia and has us keeling over with laughter when she repeats segments of this book, in almost perfect imitation of Mom's Olivia voice. "Daddy, what can you be sinking - do you want to cook santa!"
This book is richer in colors than the previous books which I think perfectly balances the more static story line. Here you get red and green - appropriate for Christmas - with other odd touches of color. I love discovering the layers of technical detail and thinking that Ian Falconer puts into his books. I'm glad to expose my kid to them, even if I suspect she's turning into a mini Olivia!!!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My daughter reminds me of Olivia so we had to have this book. She loved it. It was read and reread many times before putting it away with the Christmas books for next year.Published 18 days ago by SM
I love Olivia. I have almost all of her books (by Ian Falconer), so of course, I had to get it for my 6 year old niece. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Diane B
We have been reading this book every night for two months now. My four year old loves it so much she has most of it memorized.Published 26 days ago by colleen bruvold
My 2 year old loves the Olivia series. This was a fun addition to our collection. We loved reading it during the holidays.Published 28 days ago by Anne K.
My granddaughters favorite new book! Arrived in perfect condition!Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Baby and daddy love spending time together reading this!Published 1 month ago by Melissa Leslie-Quinones