Olivia Saves the Circus

Olivia Saves the Circus

by Ian Falconer


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Step into the ring with Olivia, where the lights are dim, the color soft, and a little girl's imagination is the main attraction.

Olivia remembers her trip to the circus very well. The performers were out sick, so she had to do everything. She...

-rode on a unicycle
-jumped on a trampoline
-juggled five balls!
-tamed lions
-and flew through the air.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780689829543
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 10/01/2001
Series: Olivia the Pig Series
Pages: 44
Sales rank: 159,684
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile: AD470L (what's this?)
Age Range: 3 - 7 Years

About the Author

Ian Falconer is the author and illustrator of the Olivia book series, including Olivia, Olivia Helps with Christmas, Olivia and the Fairy Princesses, Olivia and the Missing Toy, Olivia Saves the Circus, to name a few. Falconer’s illustrations have graced numerous covers of The New Yorker. He has also designed sets and costumes for the New York City Ballet, the San Francisco Opera, the Royal Opera House, and many others. He lives in Los Angeles, California.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

August 25, 1959

Place of Birth:

Ridgefield, Connecticut


Studied art history at New York University and painting at Parsons School of Design and Otis Art Institute

Read an Excerpt

Of course you can always accessorize.
Beep, beep -- coming through.

"I was Olivia the Tattooed Lady. I drew the pictures on with marker.
"Then I was Olivia the Lion Tamer ...

Table of Contents


Ian Falconer Talks About Olivia

Q. We know that the Olivia books are about your niece, but are there any autobiographical parts as well? If so, what?

A. Of course. One always draws on one's own experiences as well. I was always a very busy child -- making things.

Q. How did you decide to portray Olivia as a pig?

A. Pigs are very intelligent creatures. They seem to have a more human quality than, say, chickens -- like dogs.

Q. Were you surprised by Olivia's enormous success?

A. Yes. I was completely overwhelmed.

Q. You have worked in a wide variety of artistic media, including set design, costume design, magazine illustration, and book illustration. What do you like best about creating children's books?

A. I've always felt that children's books are for the most part condescending toward children and miss how smart children are. Their little hands and mouths may not be able to articulate what is going on in their sharp little brains. Writing children's books is an opportunity to express this, and it seems to be appreciated by both children and adults.

Q. Olivia's family plays a supporting role in both books. Are any of the characters in Olivia's family based on your own family?

A. All of the characters are my sister's family: my niece Olivia's parents, her two little brothers, and their cat and dog. But they are all just peripheral. It's really all about Olivia -- at least in her mind!

Q. Why did you choose to illustrate Olivia in only black, red, and white, rather than in full color? And what is the significance of the salmon color in Olivia Saves the Circus?

A. By eliminating most colors, it helps you focus on facial expressions and graphic situations without a lot of color and details obscuring the basic emotional architecture of the story. Salmon comes from Olivia's dream-world palette. More theatrical.

Q. The work of Jackson Pollock has become instantly recognizable to young children since your inclusion of one of his paintings in Olivia. How did you come to select that painting in particular?

A. Because most kids would look at it and say, "I could do that in about five minutes."

Q. Many people have remarked upon the unusual portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt on the wall of Olivia's bedroom in Olivia Saves the Circus. Why did you select Mrs. Roosevelt to be featured in the book and why this particular portrait of her?

A. I chose Eleanor Roosevelt because she is a great role model and because it's totally absurd. This particular picture is animated and funny.

Q. What were some of your favorite books as a child?

A. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Higglety Pigglety Pop! And Eloise, of course.

Q. What artists do you consider to be your greatest influences?

A. Picasso and Matisse (although you wouldn't know it from the books).

Q. Did you have a favorite pet as a child? Do you have any pets now?

A. Yes. A dachshund named Runzel and a seagull named Henry.

Q. You had a seagull?

A. I found it after it had been abandoned, so it was semi-wild. Eventually he was released into the wild.

Q. Did you particularly like the circus as a child? Did/do you have a favorite circus attraction?

A. Yes, I enjoyed the circus. There was an old clown named Lou Jacobs in the Ringling Brothers circus who did an act as a hunter with a dachshund dressed as a bunny rabbit.

Q. Did you ever tell an outlandish "show and tell" story of your own?

A. No, not that I remember. Although I had a very active imagination, I was very shy in front of other people. (But I dressed up a lot.)

Q. Where is your next Olivia book going to take your heroine?

A. Only Olivia knows!

Customer Reviews

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Olivia Saves the Circus 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter and I loved the original Olivia book, and we love this one as well! Great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just wanted to download this book on a Macbook pro and also on an Ipad2 and unfortunately didn't work. Don't waste your money if you want to use it on those devices. This kind of book only works on Nookcolor. They should say that before you do the purchase.
West Thompson More than 1 year ago
i am 14 and i still love this book. it is a great story for people of any age. i love it!
memeLY More than 1 year ago
I bought this fun book for my grandaughter "Olivia" for Christmas and she loved it and will hopefully p ass it down to her children someday.
Feelix More than 1 year ago
My son has all of the Olivia books he loves them all. He's almost two but he know's his Olivia books. He really pays attention to them and laughs at certain pages especially when it Olivia Queen of the Trampoline. This book and all of the others are quite hysterical Olivia can really tell a tale when it comes to this book.
reb4education More than 1 year ago
I came across this book for a children's literature class and I have fallen in love with the "Olivia" series! The illustrations are delightfully simple as are the storylines. In this book, Olivia tells her summer vacation story about visiting the circus. When she gets there, all of the performers are sick and she must fulfill their duties; so she becomes a lion tamer, a clown, a dog trainer, and much more. Like all of the "Olivia" books, Olivia shows off that she is an independent individual; she is so confident in her accessorized school uniform. I love that that message is being sent. Oh, and the picture of Eleanor Roosevelt reinforces this idea (one of those "adult gems" found in great children's books). All in all, Olivia Saves the Circus is a top notch book perfect for any home or classroom collection! Recommended Ages: 4-7
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this book Olivia is asked by her teacher to tell what happened during her vacation. She tells of how she went to the circus, but all the circus performers where sick. Of course, Olivia must come to rescue! She says, ¿Luckily I knew how to do everything¿. She tells of how she juggled, tamed lions, and walked a tight rope. This is a fantasy book and is appropriate for children ages 5-7. I thought this was an entertaining story. I think kids could really relate to Olivia with her ¿big¿ imagination. This book was a 2001 Caldecott Honor Book among many other awards. It was written and illustrated by Ian Falconer, who lives in New York City. When Mr. Falconer isn¿t telling Olivia's stories he is designing sets and costumes for the New York City Ballet, the San Francisco Opera, and the Royal Opera House in London. Falconer, Ian. Olivia Saves The Circus. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is wonderful I have a daughter named Olivia and I could see her doing the same things. It is a fun and imaginative story. I hope there are more to come.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My granddaughter is very similar to Olivia and relates to her easily. One of her favorite books. She answers to Olivia when she is being naughty.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Olivia Saves the Circus, the sequal to Olivia, is super cute! I found myself browsing the children's books at Barne's and Noble for inspiration. You see, I'm an ex interior design major, currently undecided major, that wants to write children's books when i grow up! Olivia Saves the Circus is a super special book, one that every mommy and dad should read to their kids! yay!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading to your child is great for both of you. Your child will learn new things, become a better reader, and have an increased interest in reading. You will both enjoy a stronger bond as well. Olivia Saves the Circus is a fine book for these purposes. This book is superb for prereaders as well as beginning readers. The wonderful charcoal and gouache illustrations make the story easy to follow and memorize for the nonreader, and provide helpful clues to the words for the new reader. My guess is that while this book will appeal to both girls and boys, very few girls will fail to be charmed by its profile of a very self-confident young lady pig. If you loved Olivia, you will probably be delighted with Olivia Saves the Circus. If you haven¿t read Olivia, Ian Falconer does a nice job of establishing Olivia¿s personality in this book¿s beginning so that you can enjoy Olivia Saves the Circus without having read Olivia. The combination of Ian Falconer¿s words and illustrations come together to create many subtle effects that many will not notice until the fourth or fifth reading. I think of Olivia as Miss Piggy in a family, and Olivia carries on those qualities again here. Olivia is independent, self-confident, and unfazed by anything. On the inside of the front and back covers, Olivia ¿walks¿ the cat by bodily carrying the cat in and out of an area behind two doors, while leaving both doors wide open. In the opening scene, Olivia is making breakfast. ¿Before school, Olivia likes to make pancakes for her new little brother, William, and her old little brother, Ian.¿ ¿This is a big help to her mother.¿ The two accompanying illustrations show two happy little boys chowing down . . . and then a kitchen sink area covered with dirty pots and pans with spills everywhere! Next, Olivia gets ready for school, disliking her plain gray plaid and white uniform. ¿Of course you can always accessorize.¿ And she adds red ribbons to her ears, a red pocketbook, red and white tights and undershirt with the arms showing, a red back pack and a red helmet. Red clothes are strewn all over her room. She heads to school on her little scooter, ¿Beep, beep -- coming through.¿ This is her day to tell about her summer vacation. Two events happened. ¿One day my mother took Ian and me to the circus.¿ ¿But when we got there, all the circus people were out sick with ear infections.¿ ¿Luckily I knew how to do everything.¿ Olivia is shown riding into the big top on the head of a an elephant leading a string of others. She takes her clothes off and uses a marker to be the Tattooed Lady. She is the Olivia the Lion Tamer, by roaring at the lion and cowing it. Next, she appears as Olivia, the Tight-rope Walker. ¿And I walked on stilts and juggled and was Olivia the Clown and rode a unicycle.¿ Her biggest event involved being Flying Olivia on the trapeze, who fell to a trampoline (becoming Queen of the Trampoline), bounced up and down, and flew back up onto the trapeze to complete her aerial performance. These six pages are brilliantly combined. You start with the two trapeze pages (numbers one and six in the sequence) facing each other, then when you open the two pages, you will find the connecting four pages (numbers two through five in the sequence) involving the trampoline. Children will go wild for this section! ¿And that¿s how I saved the circus, and now I am famous.¿ The summer¿s second event was less dramatic. ¿Then one time my dad took me sailing. The End.¿ ¿Was that true?¿ was Olivia¿s teacher¿s question. ¿Pretty true.¿ ¿All true?¿ ¿Pretty all true.¿ ¿Are you sure, Olivia?¿ ¿To the best of my recollection.¿ Arriving home, Olivia¿s mother asks her what went on in school that day. ¿Nothing.¿ (Do you every hear that?) When it¿s time to go to bed, Olivia isn¿t sleepy. Her mother cautions her not to jump on the bed, and then catches Olivia doing in mid-air. ¿Who do you
Jill.Barrington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Olivia goes to school and tells her classmates and teacher a thrilling story about her experience as a circus entertainer and her various abilities.
claire.cavell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Olivia has to stand up and tell her class what she did during the summer. She explains how she went to the circus but all of the circus people were out with an ear ache so she took on the show and mastered everything even being the tattooed man.
kloupe1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a very cute story of Olivia. She tells her class that she "saved the circus" after she arrived at the circus and all of the performers had ear infections. Olivia told her classmates she was the one girl circus, training dogs, jumping on trampolines, just to name a few things. And she claims it was all true. This book would be good to teach a lesson about story telling, whether it be real or not, and story telling infront of your peers.
crashingwaves38 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eh. I usually like the Olivia books, but this was one distinctly all right. I can't get past the idea that it's ok to lie to your teacher about what you did, even after he asks several times if that's really what happened. It just didn't have...that something that the Olivia books usually have.
drruth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not as good as the original Olivia, but still better than most picture books.
wenestvedt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh, good heavens, do we love this book. Ian Falconer, you are the King of the Trampoline!
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