Want a funny, sweet story about being yourself? Or a book that reminds you of Olivia the Pig with paints and color? You need Oh, Olive! This book, by Lian Cho (author and illustrator) might be the one you want. The story itself is familiar, but the way the author has presented it is clever and new. The art is fresh and silly, but keeps things in perspective.
Our Olive cannot paint a shape. Not a square like her father, nor a triangle like her mother. No, she can only splash colors all around the page, the walls, the floor, the room, the people in her classroom, herself. Boldly bold colors, and swishes and swashes and lines and swirls and even a lick or two, plus so much more. But not a shape in sight. And Olive’s parents, while worried, are supportive. She will learn soon enough. But even with their art lessons, and her listening very closely to her teacher, there is never a shape in sight. The black and white world of Olive is of course disrupted by all of her colors, her passion, her paints. And of course, it is the students in her class that help Olive realize that her way is a better way for her, and in fact wish they could paint like her. Even though they have a lonely square, triangle and even a circle.
The end has a clever, funny twist, that I did not completely see coming (I knew part of it, but not the other). A good book for most ages, it is simple, but far from simplistic. Now, I could have done without the paint on the people that was deliberately done (but then again, Goldie Hawn got her start by being painted).