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Olivia . . . and the Missing Toy

Last updated Monday, December 27, 2010

Author: Ian Falconer
Illustrator: Ian Falconer
Date of Publication: 2003
ISBN: 0689852916
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Nov. 2010

Synopsis: Kindergarten-Grade 3-Olivia is back, the indomitable individualist now coaxing her mother to make her a new soccer uniform in red, not the "really unattractive green" of the rest of the team. During the sewing session, Olivia's stuffed animal disappears and the fearless piglet must solve the mystery. She eventually tracks it down, but it is now in pieces, courtesy of the dog. Olivia's tears are surprisingly easily diverted by her father's glib promise from behind the newspaper to replace it with "the very best toy in the whole world," but the independent protagonist resews it herself and even improves on the original. Once again, the illustrations are stylish and witty, now extended by the addition of green to Falconer's trademark charcoal-and-gouache black, white, and red palette. The inclusion of photographic reproductions (the sphinx in a dream and Martha Graham on the bedroom wall) adds a nice contrast, and the endpapers show a comic strip of the little pig trying to get her toy to sit up. The changes in the size of the typeface to indicate volume of speech as Olivia interrogates her little brothers, and as her distress escalates, are hilarious. But the plot meanders a little, and it seems as though Falconer is letting style overtake story. Olivia is in danger of starting to appear more like a bratty bully than the charming nonconformist we know and love. Still, her many fans will enjoy this latest adventure of the piglet turned detective.

Note to readers:
•  Notice there is a fold-out page where she discovers her toy.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you read other Olivia books? Have you seen Olivia on TV?
•  What kind of animal is she?
•  Why do you think Olivia is looking under the couch?
•  Do you think she'll find her toy by the end of this book?
•  Have you ever lost a toy?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Have you ever gotten mad at your little brother/sister or someone else because you thought they took your toy?
•  Do you think Olivia did a good job of looking for her toy before blaming her brothers?
•  Do you think her parents and brothers could have helped her look if she'd asked?
•  What's your favorite toy?

Craft ideas:
•  Make and decorate Olivia's toy -- Cut out legs, a body, arms, and a head
-- Have the students put the toy back together again by gluing the pieces on another sheet of paper: they can put the doll together anyway they'd like!
-- Then have them decorate their creation!
•  Draw Olivia' trying to find her toy.
•  Make an Olivia pig mask out of construction paper and different size circles!!

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!