Parents' Guide to

Olivia the Spy

By Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Adorable pig learns danger of eavesdropping in cute story.

Olivia the Spy Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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This cute and funny Olivia adventure shows the dangers both of eavesdropping and of presuming you know how to do everything. It's also a cautionary tale for parents who may complain a bit too loudly and often about their kids' behavior and mistakes: The kids are often listening, and a negative rant can make them feel worried and insecure. But all of this is treated in the lightest possible way, with adorable Olivia "blending in" (becoming a lamp under a shade, a picture in a frame, part of a zebra rug) to "spy" on her parents to see what they're saying about her.

The art shows Olivia's range of emotions and on one page pictures her alone in a tall prison building topped with barbed wire. But there's a comforting ending with Olivia in bed after the ballet, reading a Julia Child cookbook and offering to make up for spying by cooking for the family the whole next week. When her mom says, "Oh no you won't!" Olivia answers in the familiar refrain, "MOMMY, I KNOW how to COOK!"

Book Details

  • Author: Ian Falconer
  • Illustrator: Ian Falconer
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Atheneum
  • Publication date: April 4, 2017
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 4 - 6
  • Number of pages: 40
  • Available on: Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: July 13, 2017

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