Olivia Helps With Christmas by Ian Falconer

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Olivia Helps With Christmas by Ian Falconer
Buy Olivia Helps With Christmas from Amazon.co.uk

Buy Olivia Helps With Christmas from Amazon.com

Genre: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The eighth book in the Olivia series and fans and new readers will delight in seeing Olivia with her snout up the chimney waiting for Santa. Less saccharine than many Christmas stories it's highly recommended by The Bookbag.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 50 Date: October 2008
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
ISBN: 978-1847382726

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I have a granddaughter by the name of Olivia and when I saw Olivia Helps With Christmas I simply couldn't resist it. Now, my granddaughter isn't a piglet (well, most of the time) but I suspect that there will be a lot of things in this story which will be very familiar.

It was the day before Christmas and Olivia and her family had been out shopping. Olivia is the eldest child so she has to walk whilst her father carries Ian (plus the tree) and her mother struggles with William and a perilous stack of boxes and bags. Despite being so tired, Olivia knows that there's a lot she has to do before the big day. Ian and her father are told to put up the tree so that she can help her mother with William's lunch. Unfortunately, feeding him blueberry pie has an entirely predictable - and colourful - result.

Olivia's impatient for the arrival of Father Christmas and by four o'clock has her snout up the chimney and her mother has to distract her by asking her to help untangle the Christmas lights. You have to wonder if she isn't taking a little revenge when she switches the lights on when Olivia manages to get herself tangled up in them. But finally the tree is trimmed and the children go back to Santa watch at five o'clock...

I'm not going to spoil the story by telling you what happens but they're the sort of things which happen at Christmas in every family - only more so! There's all the impatience of children wanting their presents and the firm belief that Santa is going to come down the chimney to deliver them. Parents and children will laugh at the scrapes that Olivia gets into and there'll be a lot of sympathy for her long-suffering parents and brothers. She's exuberant and strong-willed, kindly, if occasionally a little misguided. She's a normal child!

For me it was the pictures which made the book into something special. Olivia and her family are done in line drawings with bright splashes of colour. The slightly surreal atmosphere is enhanced by the backdrops of an elegant modern house furnished on minimalist lines, or full colour pictures of a snowy landscape. You'll understand exactly what I mean when I say that I looked at a drawing of Olivia's mother wearing a straight skirt and thought how elegant she looked. The fact that she's a pig never crossed my mind. There are a couple of fold-out pages to add to the fun.

This is the eighth book in the Olivia series and it will appeal to fans and newcomers alike. Parents will laugh along with their children and the text would not be beyond an emerging reader. There are some words which might be a little difficult but the context and illustrations will help.

Go on, you know you want to buy it.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag

Bookbag isn't normally fond of books which don't have much of a life beyond Christmas, but we did like Melrose and Croc: Together at Christmas by Emma Chichester Clark and Merry Christmas, Blue Kangaroo by the same author. I certainly know one little piglet, er, girl who'll be delighted with this book!

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