Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
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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