Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer
Having failed to secure a THIRD strawberry-related picture book this week (not for lack of trying) I turn to a heroine we’ve only seen once before in our previous Olivia episode. The first time I introduced Kate to Olivia I was shocked by how much she liked the little pig. Recall, if you will, that Kate has a tendency to dislike bratty heroines. Olivia, by some unexpected roll of the dice, apparently passes muster. Today’s book includes one of my favorite exchanges between a student and a teacher in the picture book form, and is filled with small details you may have missed back in the day when the book was first published. Things like why, precisely, the cover image was significantly changed from its interior original. Or why Olivia is like Moira Rose/Meg White!
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We more than understand the urge to place Eleanor Roosevelt on the wall of Olivia’s room… but why that particular photo, do you think?
Kate made the point that Olivia’s teacher has a more than passing similarity to the character of Arnim Zola from the Marvel movies. The book came out before any of the films, but you have to admit that there is a more than passing resemblance…
I’d never really noticed it before but Kate’s not wrong. The elephant’s eyes here suggest that something is very, very, very wrong. “What is happening to these poor elephants?” “Nothing good!”
Kate was a little perturbed and confused by Olivia’s choice to include “Remember the Maine” on her chest when she appears as the Tattooed Lady. I just couldn’t stop talking about how the phrase appears in the Music Man song “Trouble in River City”.
Oh, joy of joys! Oh, great happiness! Bliss! There really WAS a clown in this book and it really DID freak Kate out! Huzzah!
Now here is an interesting point. Kate finds this gatefold disappointing and I am not inclined to disagree. It shows Olivia jumping on the trampoline and is . . . perfectly fine. Still, knowing the sheer amount of work that goes into a gatefold, I’m kind of inclined to believe that if you include this kind of fancy spread, you illustrate it to the best of your abilities OR it forwards in the plot in some way. This does neither.
Now this is one of my favorite compare/contrast moments. First, you will see the interior image in the book. Then, you will see how they turned it into the cover image. BUT but but BUT! Clearly at some point in the process someone pointed out that in the original picture Olivia is (A) carrying a whip and (B) not wearing pants. And that will simply not do. So they stole her whip and they slapped a pair of pants on her. Problem solved! I also adore that Kate suggests that the cover image with tights looks very Moira Rose (particularly the hat).
Hat tip to Lark for bringing us to the Independent article, Animal discovered with ‘transient anus’ that only appears when it is needed. This may explain a lot about how anuses appear in European picture books but seemingly disappear when the books are published here in the States.
Kate Recommends: The Great British Baking Show Game
Betsy Recommends: I’m on TikTok at last! Come say hi to me!
Filed under: Fuse 8 n' Kate
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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