Olivia and the Fairy Princesses, by Ian Falconer

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I rarely recommend books that are commercially successful, series-type books. Please don’t get me wrong- we have Little Creature, Berenstain Bears, and Little Golden Books spilling out of our shelves and my kids, like most kids, adore them. But I guess I try to stay away from featuring them here (of course all bets are off when I’m trying to find TEN books on a subject). I would say that when a book becomes a TV show, its character’s fame is solidified and perhaps the quality of the books doesn’t need to…well, continue. There are exceptions of course- Toot and Puddle comes to mind (though those books were all written well before the show). We’re also big fans of Fancy Nancy (oh the vocabulary on that girl! She’s fabulous!). I could go on and on if I thought about it. To spare you, I won’t.

As far as Olivia (the lovable impish pig) goes, I’d honestly only read the original. On the show, she’s, well, kind of a brat. But on Ian Falconer’s pages and with his distinct illustrations, Olivia is a willful, clever, curious little rascal. She is unique and totally independent. And stylish to boot. When I was searching for 10 alternative princess books, I came across Olivia and the Fairy Princesses.Olivia and the Fairy Princesses, by Ian Falconer. From ameliesbookshelf.com

There is some draw toward princesses for little girls, whether they want to be the Cinderella kind or the Spiderman kind (keep in mind here I have a 3 year old and that’s where her mind goes). If you recall last Halloween, my daughter stepped into her red and blue shiny dress and red boots and immediately- and gleefully- declared herself a princess. She was wearing a Wonder Woman costume. Just having her make that connection kind of freaks me out- and so I came to appreciate Olivia’s take on princesses.

In Olivia and the Fairy Princesses, Olivia is fed up with the fact that all the other little girls her age are obsessing over princesses.

And only the pink fairy tale kind, not even the culturally accurate kind.


She wants to dance to the beat of her own drum, to expand her horizons, to aspire to be something much more significant. She doesn’t want to blend in with every little girl in a pink dress around her- she leans a little bit toward righteousness here, but I get where she’s going with it. I love an independent thinker, and that’s Olivia.  (May I point out here how much I appreciate a children’s book that throws out the term “corporate malfeasance” with a straight face? Or dedicates the book to Martha Graham and apologizes to her in the same breath for doing so? Thank you.)


So what does Olivia decide would be better than being a beautiful young princess with her cloying Prince Charming coming to her rescue?


Ha! Well done, Olivia!

And also, remember that the links take you to my Amazon affiliate store, where you can buy any of the books I’ve profiled!

3 thoughts on “Olivia and the Fairy Princesses, by Ian Falconer

  1. I LOVE the Ian Falconer Olivia books. I’ve bought each hardcover as they’ve been released, starting with the first one. (Which, I should add, was 5 years before I had a child…) I think they’re hilarious. Olivia is based on Falconer’s niece, and his nephews really are named Ian and William. The show is okay – it grew on me after a bit – but I never could quite get excited about it, because I was already possessive of the character. I was so afraid after the Nickelodeon media tie-in books came out that he would stop writing his own. I’m thrilled that wasn’t the case. I got to read most of the books to my oldest’s first grade class this year, which was awesome. And this one is one of my favorites. The Martha Graham re-creation is seriously the best!


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