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Dealing with Childish Obsessions
on 4 December 2007
As a parent, I've always been drawn to children's stories where the child is so silly that it makes my own children realize where they have the same weakness. When that happens, we laugh about the silly person in the story and assure one another that we would never be so silly. Naturally, such a self-drawn lesson is more powerful than one that comes from me.
Every child becomes obsessed about certain things. This book will make good reading for them. Hopefully, they will learn by seeing themselves in the piggish mirror of Olivia.
I was especially attracted to the 12 part cartoon on the end papers of the book that show Olivia using tape to get her favorite bear to sit up. That little wordless story nicely sets the stage for the main event within.
The opening page of the book provided me with enormous chuckles. I could barely stand to leave the page. Olivia is seated on a camel in front of the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid with her toy. The caption is "One day Olivia was riding a camel in Egypt . . ." But it all turns out to be but a dream. When she awakes, her mother reminds he it's time for soccer practice that morning. The red-loving Olivia dislikes that her uniform comes in "a really unattractive green." Olivia asks her mom to make a red soccer shirt instead. Olivia's mom agrees, but Olivia finds waiting to be intolerable so she takes her toy bear out to play with the cat. Finally, the shirt is done . . . but horror of horrors, her toy is missing! She throws a fit and starts looking around. While playing the piano on the dark and stormy night, Olivia hears a noise and searches out the cause while carrying a large candelabrum. She finds her toy has been chew up by the dog, Perry! Her father appeases Olivia by offering to buy her another toy. But in the meantime, she fixed the toy and made it even more humorous than ever. Olivia swears off dog books as a result, but she eventually forgives Perry and lets him back into bed with her.
To me the strength of the story was the Olivia takes the initiative to solve the problem of her missing toy . . . and then doesn't hold a grudge. The message is that things happen, but we shouldn't take them too seriously if we can repair matters. That's a good lesson for us all.
I think this book will be even more amusing for low-key children who don't get easily upset as they see how another child might react.
I love you, Olivia!