cover image Olivia and the Fairy Princesses

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses

Ian Falconer. S&S/Atheneum, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4424-5027-1

Throughout the Olivia books, Falconer’s hammy piglet has played such roles as circus performer, experimental music dynamo, and fashionista. She opens this delightful installment declaring, “I think I’m having an identity crisis.... I don’t know what I should be!” When her father chirps, “You’ll always be my little princess,” Olivia mopes, “All the girls want to be princesses,” and so do “a couple of the boys.” Falconer pictures his heroine defying crowds of pink-tutu’d, wand-waving look-alikes by sporting a voguish sailor shirt and Wintouresque black sunglasses; Olivia later dresses as a blue warthog at a Halloween party (“It was very effective”). And while other dancers compete to become a fairy princess ballerina, Olivia opines, “I’m trying to develop a more stark, modern style,” letting loose with a series of dramatic poses in a stretchy charcoal-gray fabric tube (the book’s dedication: “With deepest apologies to Martha Graham”). Olivia stubbornly dresses in red-and-white-striped long johns, resists damsel-in-distress bedtime stories, and lies awake considering philanthropic lines of work. Lest this be seen as pure propaganda, however, Olivia’s ultimate career decision places everything in perspective: “I want to be queen.” Not all will be persuaded to join the pink princess backlash, but it’s a start. Ages 3–7. Agent: Conrad Rippy, Levine Plotkin & Menin. (Aug.)