cover image OLIVE, MY LOVE


Vivian Walsh, , illus. by J.otto Seibold. . Harcourt, $15 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-204720-7

In this love song for admirers of Olive, the Other Reindeer , the Mr. Lunch series and the tried-and-true "Olive"/"all of" homonym, Walsh and Seibold's title pooch has a not-so-secret admirer. Olive has just baked some heart-shaped dog biscuits when she notices a Cupid-like canine fluttering over her house, carrying a red heart and howling (à la Robert Plant?), "All of my love... to you." It's her friend Dexter, who looks like Mr. Lunch with wings. As the pooch flies by, he lets go of the huge heart. " 'You dropped all of your love!' Olive called out. But... Dexter had already flown away." Olive and an unnamed black bug (whom youngsters may recognize from the film version of the previous title) glance at each other in alarm, and Olive decides she must return Dexter's lost possession. As they push and pull the unwieldy heart to Dexter's mountaintop cottage, Olive and the bug get help from Handler, a fast-chattering squirrel, and a black-widow spider named Weaver. Like the collaborators' other picture books, this convoluted romance contains an absurd plot and a wealth of comical visual details. A potentially mushy denouement (" 'I didn't lose my heart, Olive. I gave it to you,' said Dexter") is swept aside with savoir-faire as the five characters open the heart and sit down for a picnic of bonbons and cookies. In Seibold's digital illustrations, small creatures invariably have outsize personalities, and this book features memorable individuals, old and new. All ages. (Oct.)