One of the first books my daughter received was the board book version of Olivia by Ian Falconer. Only a few months old at the time, she didn't really appreciate the book gift. But sometime around the age of two or three, she became quite fond of the lively little girl pig with a big imagination. We've since read nearly all the picture books in the Olivia series. Toddlers and preschoolers love Olivia so it was no surprise to me when Nick Jr. started airing an animated television series earlier this year based on the bestselling book series. Just last week on August 11, 2009, Nickelodeon released an Olivia DVD showcasing some of the original TV episodes (and a couple of brand new ones).
For those not familiar with Olivia, she's an adventure loving 6-3/4-year-old pig with a super vivid imagination. Olivia dreams big, always imagining herself as larger than life characters. She has two younger brothers, Ian and William. Sibling rivalry and jealousy are main themes in the episodes, and Olivia calls her little brother Ian, "little bother." A few of the episodes show Olivia attending school, competing with her friend Francine and relying on friend Julian. The catchy theme song is an attention getting, jazzy ditty - O-LI-VI-A! Animated shorts play between the episodes.
My daughter enjoyed all the episodes, but she really, really likes the brand new episode, "Olivia Acts Out." Olivia wants to star as "Queen of the Fairies" in her school play, but instead her teacher casts her in the role of "Cow #2." To her disappointment she only has one boring line, "Moo." She makes the most of her moo with a performance that is over the moon. I loved Olivia's clever "Rules of Life." (Rule #5: "Not everyone can wear red, especially when you're pink.")
Viewers should know that although the episodes are based on the Olivia books and include some phrases from the books, they are entirely new plots not seen in the book series. Also, the producers decided to move beyond Falconer's unique minimalist colors of red, white and black by showing the characters and settings in full color. However, Olivia still wears her signature red outfits! I think kids will appreciate the animated episodes more if they've been previously introduced to Olivia's character by reading the book series. Later this year Simon & Schuster plans to publish several Olivia TV Tie-in books.
Episode List: (as shown on back of DVD)
Olivia Acts Out - As Cow #2 in the school play, Olivia tries to make the moooost of her role.
Olivia and Grandma's Visit - Olivia and Ian must share a bedroom during Grandma's visit.
Olivia Plays Piano - Ian is great on the piano, so jealous Olivia tries to ship him to Siberia!
Olivia Trains Her Cat - Olivia suggests a pet talent show when she fibs that Edwin, her cat, can do ballet.
Olivia and the Crystal Ball - When Ian and Olivia break Dad's new trophy, Madam Olivia predicts big trouble!
Olivia Plays Soccer - Olivia becomes goalie on the school soccer team.
Olivia Packs Up - Not wanting to share, Olivia searches for a place with no "little bothers" in sight.
Olivia Is Invited to Dinner - Francine invites Olivia for dinner.
Olivia DVD Not Rated-95 minutes; Bonus Features: Olivia Photo Gallery; Released August 11, 2009; $16.99 SRP
DVD Source: Review copy provided for free by Bender/Helper Impact, Nickelodeon and Paramount Home Entertainment
Nick Jr. Olivia Website
http://www.oliviathepiglet.com/ - Learn more about Ian Falconer and have fun with Olivia and join her fanclub
Olivia Teacher/Librarian Activity Guide (includes coloring sheet) [pdf]
Wikipedia List of Olivia Episodes
Win a copy. Nickelodeon has kindly offered to giveaway an Olivia DVD to a Brimful Curiosities reader.
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