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Have you ever been around a child who loses their favorite toy?
"Olivia...and the Missing Toy", by Ian Falconer, is another episode of
Olivia and her life as a youngster growing up.  In this story, Olivia (who
is the cutest and oldest pig sibling of a family of pigs) has decided to
have her mother make her another color of soccer shirt. When her mom states
that she'll look different from every other pig on the team, she says,
"That's the point."  So, as her mother sets out to complete the task, her
favorite little stuffed toy becomes lost.  She is so upset that she can
hardly stand it. As she looks everywhere, her voice screams off the page as
the text becomes emblazoned and large. Where can it possibly be?
One page shows a shadow of a scary looking dog. But the clever fold-out
depicts her pet dog and the remains of her most valued and now found toy.
She eventually sews and tapes the stuffed toy back together making it better
than new. And as she goes off to bed with NO DOG books, the author has
cleverly depicted how she forgives the canine at the conclusion of the
story.
The illustrations of Olivia, like the other two books -"Olivia" and "Olivia
Saves the Circus" - are bold and red set against black and gray backgrounds.
The author also illustrated the story which enables him to portray his story
with a wonderful blend of words and pictures. I especially love the inside
covers which tells a story of its own. This is a perfect picture book to
read to your 5 through 8 year old and enjoy and smile together...perhaps
remembering a familiar situation at your home.

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Sometimes you come across a sweet, short fiction story that contains much
that one can learn. "The Story of a Seagull and The Cat Who Taught Her to
Fly", by Luis Sepulveda, is an easy read for your 8 to 12 year old but full
of beautiful language and good values.
When Zorba, a very large black feline, discovers a poor pitiful seagull on
his balcony, he senses something's amiss. The seagull has recently become
entrapped in an oil spill in the ocean and used all of her strength and
energy to fly to land. Unfortunately, the oil has reached her pores and is
ultimately killing her, but before she dies, she lays an egg. She makes
Zorba pledge to do three things for her offspring: 1) to not eat it; 2) to
take care of the egg until it's hatched; and 3) to teach the young bird to
fly. He promises her all three but then realizes he knows nothing about eggs
and even less about birds. So he sets off to recruit help from his friends.
The reader will immediately become aware that this story takes place in
another port by a sea far away and quite foreign by the names of the seas,
points of interest and isles. Or is it? The felines are easy to recognize by
their quick response to help and Zorba is at once appreciated because of his
commitment to this egg.
Once the chick hatches, however, the lives of the cats and the seagull
become much more complicated.  How can Zorba, a cat, get his small feathered
friend to fly? He sets about to search anyway he can to help this bird live
the life it's meant to.
The story will take the reader on an experience of love and true devotion,
making the story have a universal appeal. The effects of the oil spill will
help the reader reflect upon our impact on nature. But the real story of
Zorba, and his little chick, will take the reader to wonderful heights.  The
author, who was born in Chile, originally wrote the story in German.
Margaret Sayers Peden translated it. The beautiful black and white pictures
throughout the book, illustrated by Chris Deban, are a wonderful window into
the story.