Oliver

 
(i)

 

Imaginative boy goes down the drain on fantastic adventure.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Oliver shows how to carry an idea through: He starts with a question, learns all he can, and then goes further by making his own wings, taking things apart, and digging into the dirt. He's the kind of kid who goes through a lot of paper and tape.

Positive messages

Oliver's curiosity greatly enriches his playtime. He wants to explore everything by learning all he can and then letting his imagination take over. His mother is preoccupied but clearly loving. She doesn't always have time to indulge her son, but Oliver is still comfortable bringing all his questions and ideas to her. When he's off on his adventure, he knows he should get back -- his mother would miss him.

Positive role models

Independent Oliver is happily absorbed in his imaginative world while his mother goes about doing her grown-up stuff. Their relationship is realistic: Mom seems a bit worn down by her inquisitive boy, and Oliver chafes at the limits on his freedom. But their moments of connection are genuine and warm.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Oliver will charm all ages with its delightful story and cheerful, multimedia artwork. Oliver's endless curiosity leads him to an incredible adventure down the bathtub drain -- but, as in all great adventures, he makes it home in time for dinner. (Worth noting: Parents might want to point out that jumping from heights in hopes of flying can lead to trouble!)

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What's the story?

Oliver is full of questions. How do planes stay in the sky? Could a penguin live in the refrigerator? When he hears a gurgling tub drain, he wonders if there's a hungry monster in the pipes. Mom won't let him try feeding it a banana, so he makes a cardboard submarine and dives down the drain … and discovers a lively group of vacationing penguins. It's been a fun trip, but Oliver knows his mom will miss him. Could the penguins help him find his way home?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

OLIVER is a delightful book to read together: Kids and parents will see a bit of themselves in both Oliver and his mom. He's a whirlwind of happy energy, drawing up plans and taping things together and jumping off walls. His loving mom is busy, too, hanging the laundry, cleaning up from lunch, and hoping to get in a nap.

Judith Rossell's whimsical artwork -- a blend of watercolor, pencil, and collage -- brings the story to life. Preschoolers will enjoy pointing out recurring elements: Broccoli for lunch reappears as trees, the challenge to get airborne leads to a spread involving jet packs, and Oliver's cardboard submarine has an early cameo as refrigerator art.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about finding the answers to questions. If you're curious about something, how can you learn more?

  • Oliver found out "everything he could" about wings before trying to build his own pair. Why can't Oliver -- or penguins -- fly?

  • Preschoolers might want to go on their own adventure, like Oliver. Parents can supply a large box, scissors, tape, and markers, and then step back and let their child's imagination take over. Another good project: Grab pen and paper, and make up a down-the-drain adventure together. 

Book details

Author:Judith Rossell
Illustrator:Judith Rossell
Genre:Picture Book
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Great boy role models
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:May 8, 2012
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):3 - 7
Read aloud:3 - 7
Read alone:6 - 7
Available on:Hardback

This review of Oliver was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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