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Olivia Saves the Circus
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Olivia Saves the Circus

4.1 23
by Ian Falconer

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Step into the ring with Olivia, where the lights are dim, the color soft, and a little girl's imagination is the main attraction.

Olivia remembers her trip to the circus very well. The performers were out sick, so she had to do everything. She...

-rode on a unicycle
-jumped on a trampoline
-juggled five balls!
-tamed lions
-and flew through the


Step into the ring with Olivia, where the lights are dim, the color soft, and a little girl's imagination is the main attraction.

Olivia remembers her trip to the circus very well. The performers were out sick, so she had to do everything. She...

-rode on a unicycle
-jumped on a trampoline
-juggled five balls!
-tamed lions
-and flew through the air.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com review
The Barnes & Noble Review
Everyone's favorite pig is back in this charming sequel to Ian Falconer's Caldecott Award-winning Olivia. Standing proud in her adorably accessorized school uniform, Olivia recounts her adventurous summer vacation, which was highlighted by a trip to the circus that led to a heroic and hilarious performance from the petite pig. Upon arrival at the big top, she learned that all the circus people were out sick with ear infections. "Luckily I knew how to do everything," she says. We see Olivia the Lion Tamer (her grisly growl frightens the biggest lion) and Olivia the Tightrope Walker. Madame Olivia and her Trained Dogs will evoke a big chuckle as the pooches turn out to be a hilariously inept bunch. At the end, Olivia's boastful account leaves the teacher scowling at her desk. When asked if her wild story is true, Olivia politely responds, "Pretty all true."

From the sassy piglet's school uniform to her unmatched determination to know everything, Olivia is a favorite among kids and adults, and her trademark humor and energy fill the pages of this amusing tale. Falconer portrays the portly pig as rambunctious but still lovable. This little darling exhibits the proud boldness recognizable in many preschoolers. Olivia'a imagination will also ring familiar with readers who have told more than their share of "pretty all true" stores. Once again, Falconer uses a palette consisting mostly of greys, black, white, and reds. Donning several different outfits, including a sweet clown suit, Olivia is sure to be a fashion icon to the pre-K sect in no time.

Get your hands on this little piggie and kids will giggle with glee, parents will smile knowingly, and Olivia will probably sit back and say, "See? Told ya so." (Amy Barkat)

The expressive young pig who wowed readers in Olivia is back in all her glory. Like the first book, this one is short on plot but long on charm. Olivia rushes through the morning making pancakes and accessorizing her boring school uniform before dashing off on her scooter to school. Asked to report on her summer vacation, Olivia spins a yarn about how she saved the circus, playing all roles from lion tamer to trapeze artist when the performers were out sick. Outstanding graphic design and color choices, plus lots of humor, make this book as irresistible as its main character.
—Kathleen Odean

Publishers Weekly
Could there be a more ideal place for Olivia than in the center ring under the Big Top? It will come as no surprise to her many fans that this is how Olivia claims to have spent her summer vacation. Using the same day-in-the-life format as his show-stopping debut (Olivia), Falconer shows Olivia making pancakes for her two brothers (including new addition William) before school. "This is a big help to her mother," accompanies a picture of utter chaos in the kitchen. The heroine adds her signature red accoutrements to her "really boring uniform," then heads to the classroom where it's her turn to tell about her summer ("Olivia always blossoms in front of an audience"); she holds both teacher and students (and readers) rapt as she describes her trip to the circus. "All the circus people were out sick with ear infections," says Olivia. "Luckily I knew how to do everything." Falconer outdoes himself with theatrical scenes of the diminutive leading lady teetering on top of an elephant's head, walking on stilts and, in a four-page fold-out spread, as "Queen of the Trampoline" flying off the trapeze and somersaulting in the air (the outline of her porkish figure trapped in the trampoline netting is worth the price of admission). He once again demonstrates how attuned he is to the way a child thinks when, at the very end of her share, in tiny typeface, Olivia tacks on a shred of truth, "Then one time my dad took me sailing The End." This star's numerous spectators can only hope that she will have many encores. Ages 3-7. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Olivia, the irrepressible pig/child, is back, this time with a new little brother William to go along with her old little brother Ian. Olivia gets dressed in her boring uniform which she "accessorizes" with red ribbons, red striped socks, a red purse and red hat. At school, she volunteers to tell about her vacation and, always at her best in front of an audience, invents a fine day at the circus when she takes the place of all performers who have suddenly been stricken with ear infections. As Olivia's imagination takes over, pictures show her dressed in muted pink and black, taming lions, juggling, riding a unicycle and in a superfluous (but no doubt child-pleasing) gatefold, performing trampoline and trapeze acts. Back in real time, her teacher asks if this is true and Olivia says that it's pretty true, to the best of her recollection. Then it's home and bedtime and a reminder from Mom not to jump on the bed—"What do you think you are¾Olivia, Queen of the Trampoline?" which echoes a line from Olivia's fabricated story. Falconer's artwork is smoothly rendered in black and gray charcoal and gouache with crisp eye-catching red. While the story is not as fresh as Falconer's award-drenched Olivia, both younger and older fans of the first book as well as new fans will enjoy another chance to laugh at this Eloise-like, self-assured child, er, piglet. 2001, Anne Schwartz/Atheneum, $16.00. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Susan Hepler
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Just one year after the auspicious debut of a precocious, multitalented young piglet comes an encore performance. The circus performers are sick with ear infections, but, luckily for all, Olivia knows "how to do everything." She walks on stilts, juggles, clowns, walks the tightrope, and tames the lions. Best of all, in a spectacular double gatefold, she is Flying Olivia (trapeze artist) and Olivia, Queen of the Trampoline. The presentation of these two acts as one gracefully flowing motion from trapeze to trampoline to trapeze is a virtuoso performance graphically as well. The story of the little pig at the circus is framed within the context of a school day when it is the youngster's turn to tell about her summer vacation, and, as we know already, "Olivia always blossoms in front of an audience." The endpapers, front matter, and first pages of the story repeat motifs from the earlier book. Charcoal-and-line drawings are brilliantly accented with the piglet's flair for red clothing and accessories. When Olivia's imagination takes over at the circus, the bright-red accents change to a softer, peachy-pink hue. As in Olivia (Atheneum, 2000), the tone is witty and understated. Dialogue is minimal, but nonetheless brimming with humorous undertones. This story is more complex than the first, and, in a few instances, one wishes for smoother narrative transitions. However, Falconer has successfully sustained and built upon his delightfully original portrayal of the feisty Olivia, her vivid imagination, and her strong sense of self.-Dorian Chong, School of Library and Information Science, San Jose State University, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Child Magazine
A Child Magazine Best Book of 2001 Pick

When it's Olivia's turn to tell her classmates about her vacation, the little pig spins an outrageous fib about her imaginary circus exploits. Falconer serves up second helpings of his precocious porker with gusto, dressing the pages in shades of black and white splashed with red and crowned with understated humor.

Kirkus Reviews
She's b-a-a-c-k. The precocious star, in her trademark red, has started school, where she's required to wear a boring uniform. Lucky for Olivia she has a gift for accessorizing. Taking her turn to tell the class about her vacation is a proud moment: "Olivia always blossoms in front of an audience," the text states in a case of absurd understatement. It is at this precise page turn that Olivia starts to tell her fantasy story and the artist's palette turns from red and charcoal, to bright salmon and charcoal. The circus performers are sick and Olivia is able stand in for them all. "Luckily I knew how to do everything," she declares with typical Olivia humility. She is everything from Olivia the Clown to Olivia the Tightrope Walker, wearing an assortment of salmon-and-charcoal outfits, her mouth set in a purposeful (never fearful) line. So adroitly does Falconer charm and entertain, that it is easy to overlook the consummate skill required to completely capture personality in spare line and economical text. Sly, ironic details and superb book and page design support the effort. Two spreads open into four: simply captioned "Olivia Queen of the Trampoline," it alternates Olivia flying into the air, her shadow cast precisely onto the trampoline and Olivia as she disappears face down and then rear end down, leaving nice impressions of her very distinguishing features. A photograph of Eleanor Roosevelt hangs over her bed, an apt model for a determined young woman, unquestionably destined for greatness. Fans will not be disappointed by this uniquely new sequel.

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Olivia Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.40(d)
AD70L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Read an Excerpt

Of course you can always accessorize.
Beep, beep -- coming through.

"I was Olivia the Tattooed Lady. I drew the pictures on with marker.
"Then I was Olivia the Lion Tamer ...

Meet the Author

Ian Falconer is the author and illustrator of the Olivia book series, including Olivia, Olivia Helps with Christmas, Olivia and the Fairy Princesses, Olivia and the Missing Toy, Olivia Saves the Circus, to name a few. Falconer’s illustrations have graced numerous covers of The New Yorker. He has also designed sets and costumes for the New York City Ballet, the San Francisco Opera, the Royal Opera House, and many others. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Brief Biography

New York, New York
Date of Birth:
August 25, 1959
Place of Birth:
Ridgefield, Connecticut
Studied art history at New York University and painting at Parsons School of Design and Otis Art Institute

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Olivia Saves the Circus 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter and I loved the original Olivia book, and we love this one as well! Great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just wanted to download this book on a Macbook pro and also on an Ipad2 and unfortunately didn't work. Don't waste your money if you want to use it on those devices. This kind of book only works on Nookcolor. They should say that before you do the purchase.
West Thompson More than 1 year ago
i am 14 and i still love this book. it is a great story for people of any age. i love it!
memeLY More than 1 year ago
I bought this fun book for my grandaughter "Olivia" for Christmas and she loved it and will hopefully p ass it down to her children someday.
Feelix More than 1 year ago
My son has all of the Olivia books he loves them all. He's almost two but he know's his Olivia books. He really pays attention to them and laughs at certain pages especially when it Olivia Queen of the Trampoline. This book and all of the others are quite hysterical Olivia can really tell a tale when it comes to this book.
reb4education More than 1 year ago
I came across this book for a children's literature class and I have fallen in love with the "Olivia" series! The illustrations are delightfully simple as are the storylines. In this book, Olivia tells her summer vacation story about visiting the circus. When she gets there, all of the performers are sick and she must fulfill their duties; so she becomes a lion tamer, a clown, a dog trainer, and much more. Like all of the "Olivia" books, Olivia shows off that she is an independent individual; she is so confident in her accessorized school uniform. I love that that message is being sent. Oh, and the picture of Eleanor Roosevelt reinforces this idea (one of those "adult gems" found in great children's books). All in all, Olivia Saves the Circus is a top notch book perfect for any home or classroom collection! Recommended Ages: 4-7
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this book Olivia is asked by her teacher to tell what happened during her vacation. She tells of how she went to the circus, but all the circus performers where sick. Of course, Olivia must come to rescue! She says, ¿Luckily I knew how to do everything¿. She tells of how she juggled, tamed lions, and walked a tight rope. This is a fantasy book and is appropriate for children ages 5-7. I thought this was an entertaining story. I think kids could really relate to Olivia with her ¿big¿ imagination. This book was a 2001 Caldecott Honor Book among many other awards. It was written and illustrated by Ian Falconer, who lives in New York City. When Mr. Falconer isn¿t telling Olivia's stories he is designing sets and costumes for the New York City Ballet, the San Francisco Opera, and the Royal Opera House in London. Falconer, Ian. Olivia Saves The Circus. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is wonderful I have a daughter named Olivia and I could see her doing the same things. It is a fun and imaginative story. I hope there are more to come.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My granddaughter is very similar to Olivia and relates to her easily. One of her favorite books. She answers to Olivia when she is being naughty.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Olivia Saves the Circus, the sequal to Olivia, is super cute! I found myself browsing the children's books at Barne's and Noble for inspiration. You see, I'm an ex interior design major, currently undecided major, that wants to write children's books when i grow up! Olivia Saves the Circus is a super special book, one that every mommy and dad should read to their kids! yay!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading to your child is great for both of you. Your child will learn new things, become a better reader, and have an increased interest in reading. You will both enjoy a stronger bond as well. Olivia Saves the Circus is a fine book for these purposes. This book is superb for prereaders as well as beginning readers. The wonderful charcoal and gouache illustrations make the story easy to follow and memorize for the nonreader, and provide helpful clues to the words for the new reader. My guess is that while this book will appeal to both girls and boys, very few girls will fail to be charmed by its profile of a very self-confident young lady pig. If you loved Olivia, you will probably be delighted with Olivia Saves the Circus. If you haven¿t read Olivia, Ian Falconer does a nice job of establishing Olivia¿s personality in this book¿s beginning so that you can enjoy Olivia Saves the Circus without having read Olivia. The combination of Ian Falconer¿s words and illustrations come together to create many subtle effects that many will not notice until the fourth or fifth reading. I think of Olivia as Miss Piggy in a family, and Olivia carries on those qualities again here. Olivia is independent, self-confident, and unfazed by anything. On the inside of the front and back covers, Olivia ¿walks¿ the cat by bodily carrying the cat in and out of an area behind two doors, while leaving both doors wide open. In the opening scene, Olivia is making breakfast. ¿Before school, Olivia likes to make pancakes for her new little brother, William, and her old little brother, Ian.¿ ¿This is a big help to her mother.¿ The two accompanying illustrations show two happy little boys chowing down . . . and then a kitchen sink area covered with dirty pots and pans with spills everywhere! Next, Olivia gets ready for school, disliking her plain gray plaid and white uniform. ¿Of course you can always accessorize.¿ And she adds red ribbons to her ears, a red pocketbook, red and white tights and undershirt with the arms showing, a red back pack and a red helmet. Red clothes are strewn all over her room. She heads to school on her little scooter, ¿Beep, beep -- coming through.¿ This is her day to tell about her summer vacation. Two events happened. ¿One day my mother took Ian and me to the circus.¿ ¿But when we got there, all the circus people were out sick with ear infections.¿ ¿Luckily I knew how to do everything.¿ Olivia is shown riding into the big top on the head of a an elephant leading a string of others. She takes her clothes off and uses a marker to be the Tattooed Lady. She is the Olivia the Lion Tamer, by roaring at the lion and cowing it. Next, she appears as Olivia, the Tight-rope Walker. ¿And I walked on stilts and juggled and was Olivia the Clown and rode a unicycle.¿ Her biggest event involved being Flying Olivia on the trapeze, who fell to a trampoline (becoming Queen of the Trampoline), bounced up and down, and flew back up onto the trapeze to complete her aerial performance. These six pages are brilliantly combined. You start with the two trapeze pages (numbers one and six in the sequence) facing each other, then when you open the two pages, you will find the connecting four pages (numbers two through five in the sequence) involving the trampoline. Children will go wild for this section! ¿And that¿s how I saved the circus, and now I am famous.¿ The summer¿s second event was less dramatic. ¿Then one time my dad took me sailing. The End.¿ ¿Was that true?¿ was Olivia¿s teacher¿s question. ¿Pretty true.¿ ¿All true?¿ ¿Pretty all true.¿ ¿Are you sure, Olivia?¿ ¿To the best of my recollection.¿ Arriving home, Olivia¿s mother asks her what went on in school that day. ¿Nothing.¿ (Do you every hear that?) When it¿s time to go to bed, Olivia isn¿t sleepy. Her mother cautions her not to jump on the bed, and then catches Olivia doing in mid-air. ¿Who do you
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Another funny Olivia story! This book is great for asking your own kids if they think Olivia's story is true or if she is making it all up! A very good, light-hearted story to read. Pure enjoyment.