Olivia and the Fairy Princesses



A good-humored identity crisis makes this one a royal hoot.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Sly allusions to avant-garde dancer Isadora Duncan, Olivia's role model, whose photo hangs above her bed. Shows what princesses in different countries (Africa, India, Thailand, China) look like. Mentions Little Red Riding Hood and the story of The Little Match Girl. Some sophisticated vocabulary, including "depressed," "effective," "elderly," and "corporate malfeasance."

Positive messages

Pick your own style, be an individual, it's OK to want to stand apart from the crowd. "If everyone's a princess, then princesses aren't special anymore!" says Olivia.

Positive role models

Olivia strives to be special, not just like everybody else. She shares her "identity crisis" with her parents and methodically explores other attractive roles besides princess. Her mom is patient, supportive, a good listener, and reads to her but is firm about bedtime. And OIivia doesn't let her bratty side take over in this book.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Olivia and the Fairy Princesses is about Olivia the pig's desire for individuality. She tells her parents that she's having "an identity crisis" because she doesn't want to be a princess in pink like all the kids in her ballet class, at birthday parties, and on Halloween, so she explores other things she could be. It's an offbeat, humorous look at a common feeling: wanting to be special. Great for reading aloud.

What's the story?

Olivia, the adorable but self-absorbed pig, is having an identity crisis. She's surrounded by girls and \"even a couple of the boys\" who want to dress like princesses in pink -- in ballet class, for Halloween, at birthday parties. Olivia talks to her mom about her desire to be something different, more distinctive, and tries on a few of those identities -- a princess from India, Africa, Thailand, or China, or maybe a nurse or reporter. In the end, she figures out a role that's more significant than princess and so in keeping with her bossy side: queen!

Is it any good?


OLIVIA AND THE FAIRY PRINCESSES is more enjoyable than some Olivia outings because she's not being bratty; she's just expressing an honest desire to stand out from the crowd. The art, as usual, is fantastic and amusing. We see Olivia in a sea of pink princesses at a birthday party wearing her preferred blue-and-white striped shirt; in ballet class among the pink tutus wearing a black-and-white striped leotard; and full of angst, "trying to develop a more stark, modern style" in a charcoal gray stretchy number like Isadora Duncan, whose photo hangs above her bed. It's an extreme (and funny) exploration of a common instinct: wanting to not be like everybody else. A great read-aloud for bedtime or anytime.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about wanting to be special. Kids: Do you prefer to dress like your friends or wear something different?

  • Why do you think so many girls would like to be a princess?

  • Have you read other Olivia books? How do you think this one compares? Is is as good as the others? Better? What is it about Olivia that makes her books so popular?

Book details

Author:Ian Falconer
Illustrator:Ian Falconer
Genre:Picture Book
Topics:Princesses and fairies, Arts and dance, Brothers and sisters, Horses and farm animals
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:August 28, 2012
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):3 - 7
Read aloud:3 - 7
Read alone:3 - 7
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

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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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Parent of a 6 year old Written bymadsmooney1214 August 29, 2012

olivia and the fairy princesses

Families can talk about wanting to be special. Do you prefer to dress like your friends or wear something different? Why do you think so many girls would like to be a princess? Have you read other Olivia books? How do you think this one compares? Is is as good as the others? Better? What is it about Olivia that makes her books so popular?
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old September 4, 2012

Olivia - no way are you coming to my bookshelf.

Olivia is the demon of every unuverse - her behaviour is adult, mature and raunchy (including a few things that kids shouldn't copy!) so kids should stay clear of this chick flick.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing


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