How Oliver Olson Changed the World

How Oliver Olson Changed the World


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Oliver Olson's teacher is always saying that one person with a big idea can change the world. But how is Oliver supposed to change the world when his parents won't let him do anything on his own—not his class projects or even attending activities such as the space sleepover at school. Afraid he will become an outsider like ex-planet Pluto, Oliver decides to take control of his corner of the universe!

How Oliver Olson Changed the World is an irresistible chapter book from Claudia Mills, featuring lively illustrations by Heather Maione. Oliver Olson learns that before you can change the world, sometimes you need to change yourself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312672829
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 10/25/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 316,090
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 7 - 10 Years

About the Author

CLAUDIA MILLS is the author of numerous books for children of all ages. Other chapter books include 7 X 9 = Trouble!, an ALA Notable Book, and Being Teddy Roosevelt, a Best Children's Book of the Year, Bank Street College. She lives in Boulder, Colorado. HEATHER MAIONE has illustrated many children's books, including Remembering Mrs. Rossi by Amy Hest. She lives in Laurel Hollow, New York.

Read an Excerpt

How Oliver Olson Changed the World


Oliver Olson looked up at the moon.

The large inflated ball hung on a string from the ceiling in Mrs. O'Neill's third-grade classroom. Earth and Mars and the other planets hung there, too, because this was the Monday that Oliver's class was starting its five-week study of outer space.

"When I was a girl," Mrs. O'Neill said, "astronauts walked on the moon for the very first time."

Oliver tried to imagine Mrs. O'Neill as a girl. The best he could do was picture a much shorter version of a stout, short-haired lady with thick glasses and a kind smile.

"How many of you would like to walk on the moon?"

Every hand shot up, except for Oliver's. Oliver's parents would never let him walk on the moon. The moon was too far away. It was too cold. It didn't have enough gravity. The rocket might explode. Rockets exploded all the time.

Mrs. O'Neill looked at Oliver. He hoped she wouldn't ask him why he didn't want to walk on the moon. She didn't.

But Crystal Harding did. Her desk was right next to Oliver's. "Why don't you want to walk on the moon?" she whispered.

Oliver shrugged.

A shrug wasn't enough of an answer for Crystal. "Do you think it's dangerous?"

Oliver nodded. Maybe a nod would end the conversation.

"Flying is safer than driving a car," Crystal said. "It's even safer than riding a bike."

Well, being launched into outer space in a rocket wasn't the same thing as flying. And Oliver's parents were never going to let him drive a car, either. They didn't even let him ride a bike with his friend J. P. Gleason, except for around and around their boring little cul-de-sac.

"Crystal?" Mrs. O'Neill said.

"I was just asking Oliver why he didn't want to walk on the moon." Now everyone was staring at Oliver. "And he said it was dangerous." Actually, Oliver hadn't said anything. "And then I said—"

"Crystal." Mrs. O'Neill interrupted her gently but firmly. "Right now I need you to be listening, not talking."

Crystal gave Mrs. O'Neill an apologetic smile. At least five times a day, Mrs. O'Neill hadto remind Crystal about not talking. She was the most talkative person Oliver had ever known.

"Astronauts first walked on the moon on July 20, 1969," Mrs. O'Neill told the class. "Neil Armstrong led the way, and he spoke the first words ever spoken on the moon. He said, 'That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.'"

Oliver thought Neil Armstrong must have planned what to say ahead of time. Those words didn't sound like something that would pop into someone's head on the spur of the moment. Maybe Neil Armstrong's parents had written them for him and made him memorize them.

J.P. raised his hand. "Do people still walk on the moon?"

"No," Mrs. O'Neill said. "There hasn't been a manned space voyage to the moon for decades."

"Why not?" J.P. asked.

Oliver could guess the answer: the moonwas too far away, was too cold, and didn't have enough gravity. And when you got there, it was just a bunch of rocks.

"Don't people want to study the moon's rocks?" J.P. continued.

Oliver knew that J.P. loved rocks. J.P.'s desk was full of rocks. Whenever Mrs. O'Neill had a desk-cleaning day, J.P. would drag out dozens of rocks from his desk, and Mrs. O'Neill would make him take them home. And then, Oliver knew, J.P.'s mother would make him put them outside in the backyard.

"I'm sure there are lots of scientists who would like to know more about the moon's rocks," Mrs. O'Neill said. "But recent manned space missions have stayed closer to Earth."

J.P. looked disappointed.

A girl named Sylvie Shi raised her hand. "Do animals ever go up into space?"

Oliver knew that by animals Sylvie meant bunnies. Sylvie had two bunnies of her own, andevery time the class did an art project, Sylvie made hers a bunny. So far Sylvie had made a clay bunny, and a bunny puppet, and a silhouette bunny, and a bunny made out of papier-mâché.

"Some of the first creatures to go up into space were animals," Mrs. O'Neill replied. "The space scientists sent up a chimpanzee to make sure that it was safe before they sent up the first American astronaut, Alan Shepard."

"Didn't they care if it was safe for the chimp?" Sylvie demanded.

"I'm sure they did, Sylvie. And the chimp did survive the trip."

"What was the chimp's name?" Sylvie asked.

"His name was Ham," Mrs. O'Neill said. "Boys and girls, I'm glad you have so many good questions, and I hope we can answer them all over the next few weeks."

Oliver felt guilty. He didn't have any questionsat all. He imagined his parents sitting at the dining room table trying to think of questions he could ask about space.

"Oliver, why don't you ask how cold it is on the moon?" his father would say.

"Oliver, why don't you ask how astronauts go to the bathroom in outer space?" his mother would say.

Oliver smothered a chuckle. His mother would never say that. She'd ask if there were seat belts in the rocket.

"Today I want to tell you a little bit about the early years of the space program," Mrs. O'Neill went on. "President John Fitzgerald Kennedy gave a famous speech on May 25, 1961. In that speech, he said, 'I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.' Until then no one had dreamed of putting a man on the moon. It seemed impossible."

Mrs. O'Neill paused. "But, boys and girls, it happened. Before the end of the decade, a man did walk on the moon."

She paused again. Oliver knew she was going to say something she thought was very important.

"One person with a big idea can change the world," Mrs. O'Neill said. "Maybe one of you will have an idea someday that will change the world."

Oliver stared at his desk. J.P. had big ideas about rocks. Sylvie had big ideas about bunnies. Crystal had big ideas about everything. Oliver wondered if he would ever have a big idea about anything.

"Now, when we finish our study of space," Mrs. O'Neill said, "we're going to have our space sleepover, right here in our classroom at school. This is the most exciting event of third grade! There will be all kinds of space activities, from looking through a real telescope at thestars and planets, to playing space games, to watching a science-fiction movie about adventures in outer space. I'll be sending the information to your parents next week."

"Can I bring my special meteorite rock for everyone to see?" J.P. asked.

"Can we bring stuffed animals with us?" Sylvie asked.

"Do we have to sleep, or can we stay up all night talking?" Crystal asked.

"Yes, yes, yes, and no," Mrs. O'Neill said with a smile.

Oliver tuned out. His parents would never let him go to the space sleepover. He might as well ask them if he could walk on the moon. Even President Kennedy wouldn't have been able to achieve the goal of landing Oliver at the space sleepover. J.P. had invited him for a sleepover half a dozen times, and Oliver's parents had always said no. Ever since he had been sickly as a little boy, and had waited a year tobegin kindergarten, his parents, especially his mother, couldn't stop worrying about him.

Oliver looked up and scowled, as if it were somehow the moon's fault that he'd never get to see it through a real telescope. All he'd ever see was that stupid inflated ball, dangling from the classroom ceiling.

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How Oliver Olson Changed the World 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
L-I-S-A More than 1 year ago
Oliver olson is a very detirmend character in a way. His parents are too protective. But is a really good book.
danusia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nice beginning chapter book. Many children will be able to relate to the overprotective parents and Oliver's need to break free so he can begin exploring.
YouthGPL on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oliver Olson feels very confined in his life ¿ a sickly young child, his parents are now hyper-involved in his schoolwork, and let him go very few places with friends. His third grade teacher introduces a unit on the planets, culminating in a special space sleepover, and as much as Oliver knows he wants to go, he knows his parents will not let him. But he begins work on his solar system diorama, with his parents doing most of the work, as always. This is a great story about allowing kids to have a say in things ¿ Oliver eventually is able to speak his mind to his parents and get to go to the sleepover. He has a great friend named Crystal, who isn¿t his first choice of friend, but is a great one nevertheless. Oliver wants to get involved in life, and he sure does. This is a good ¿next-step¿ book for third and fourth graders ¿at 104 pages, it is a good length to challenge them.
ChristianR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oliver, a third grader, wants to do his own diaroma of the solar system. He also wants to go to the space sleepover that his class is having. But he knows his parents, who worry about him a lot because he was sick a lot when he was younger, won't agree.
prkcs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Afraid he will always be an outsider like ex-planet Pluto, nine-year-old Oliver finally shows his extremely overprotective parents that he is capable of doing great things without their help while his class is studying the solar system.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay, so you gyys who think this book is terriblf, you say: This book suks Terrible Bleh And all that other stuff. Out of all the reviews i did not but see one that said almost too breifly why they thought the book wad bad. Some if you cant even take the time to spell the dang word right! So i get that you dont like it, but some people like me go through all the reviews to check up on hoe it is but all we find is that "it sux man dnt rd it. Blehc" which id not helpful! If you have something to say about this, reply to Cupcake. Thanks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book stinks Its boring snoring Really......i feel asleep on ch.1 Waste if money
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hated this book because ther were no details bu the ending was okay
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What the heck its a good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book suks
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my Battle Of the Books (BOB) books and I love it!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
YellowPineapple More than 1 year ago
IT kept me interested and I liked the pictures!!!!!!!!!"!!!!!!!!!!!""!!!!!!!!"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is horrible. Every page made me want to vomit. Do not waste your money unless you are stupid.
Katie Girdler More than 1 year ago
Oliver olson changed my world what a good book by claudia mills