A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Explains what eavesdropping is and the dangers of listening in on other people's conversations. Introduces the word "institution" and some of its meanings.
Eavesdropping can lead to "partial truths and misinformation" and make you feel "Insecure and suspicious."
Positive Role Models
Olivia's mom vents about Olivia's behavior, but she's loving an plans a fun surprise for her, and forgives her for any mishaps. Olivia tries to do things herself without help, and sometimes there are messy consequences. But she displays positive attitude throughout (more so than in some other books in the series).
Violence & Scariness
One page shows an imagined scenario in which Olivia is looking out the window of a tall prison building ringed at the top by barbed wire.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ian Falconer's Olivia the Spy is another winner in the picture book series starring an adorable pig who often appears in a red-and-white-striped onesie and tends to get into typical kid trouble. This time, after making a few mistakes around the house, she hears her mom complaining about her on the phone and spies on her parents to hear more. Ultimately, she hears a part of a conversation that leads her to believe she's being sent to prison (her mom's actually taking her to the ballet as a surprise). It's a funny misunderstanding cleverly laid out, with a lesson not only for eavesdropping kids but also for complaining parents.
Is It Any Good?
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!"
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.