Olga da Polga
Written by Michael Bond
Illustrated by Catherine Rayner
Kane Miller 10/01/2015
176 pages Ages 6+
“With a head full of stories and a nose for adventure, Olga da Polga is also quite a handful. And when she moves into the Sawdust family’s garden, life for Noel the cat, Fangio the hedgehog, and Graham the tortoise suddenly becomes much more exciting!” [press release]
Olga da Polga began life, as best can tell, in a pet shop with a muddle of guinea pigs. Olga da Polga is sure she will go places, no matter what Old Sale or Return might say about humans and the world beyond their pet shop door. One day, Olga da Polga does leave, with a small girl named Karen, in one of those motor cars Olga da Polga has seen through the pet shop window. From this day forward, a new family, new friends, and new experiences will fill Olga da Polga’s life—and she is happy.
Needing a name, Olga da Polga finds a brilliant way to make sure Karen gets it correct, which Mr. Sawdust then paints on Olga da Polga’s fancy new home. Noel the cat, Fangio the hedgehog, and Graham the tortoise become Olga da Polga’s new best friends. Karen enters Olga da Polga into a show, which Olga da Polga is sure she will win, and she does, but not for the reason she thinks. Normal Sawdust family events and actions scare, baffle, and amuse Olga da Polga. Santa remembers her with a wonderful gift—how did he know? And through it all, Olga da Polga passes on her tales, both old and spur of the moment.
Olga da Polga is both the story of guinea pig Olga da Polga’s new life with the Sawdust family and thirteen complete, stand-alone stories disguised as chapters. A one-chapter short story is perfect for bedtime, even if read out-of-order. Bond writes in a whimsical, musical fashion, emitting a wave of wonder between his words. Olga da Polga, Noel, and Fangio are unique in character and voice. Each is a character to enjoy and each is memorable.
The watercolor illustrations, updated for this new, color publication of Olga da Polga, enhances the story. From her original illustrations, Rayner added texture to the images, most prominently those of Olga da Polga’s rosettes, creating illustrations as beautiful, and as whimsical, as Olga da Polga’s imagination. Her fur, a combination of black, brown, tan, and white rosettes, assures Olga da Polga stands out wherever she goes. The rosette-covered guinea pig has an adventurous, (some would call mischievous), spirit; tells creative, and often boastful tales; and has an appetite as big as her imagination. She especially enjoys dandelion leaves.
I loved Olga da Polga and her friends. Time flew by while reading, so I have no idea how long it takes to read one story. Bold’s wonderful voice and whimsical flow make reading Olga da Polga fun. The best word for this/these stories really is fun. They are fun to read, fun to hear, fun to see, and fun to imagine. Both parents and kids will love Olga da Polga. Expect many nights reading about this fascinating guinea pig, from the creator of Paddington Bear.
Boys might well enjoy Olga da Polga’s trip outside the backyard, as she traverses the Elysian Fields, or her weekend trip to the grandparents, where Olga da Polga comes face-to-face with the Surrey Puma. Everyone will enjoy Olga da Polga’s fanciful stories, such as when her hometown muddle of guinea pigs reach the moon before the US, and the origin of Olga da Polga’s rosettes, among many other quirky tall tales.
Olga da Polga, in thirteen chapters, takes the reader through the inquisitive little pet’s first year with the Sawdust family, ending with the mystery of Christmas. The volume is beautiful, thanks to Greenaway Medal winner Catherin Rayner’s luscious illustrations. Olga da Polga should, dare I say, be one “must have” book in your child’s bookshelf. Olga da Polga, as a whole and individually, is a timeless gem.
OLGA DA POLGA. Text copyright © 1971 by Michael Bond. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Catherine Rayner. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Kane Miller, San Diego, CA.
Find Olga da Polga on Goodreads HERE.
Michael Bond: http://www.paddington.com/us/home/
Follow on Twitter @paddingtonbear
NOTE: The author, Michael Bond, creator of Paddington Bear, turned 90 a few weeks ago. Wish him a belated Happy Birthday.
**Originally published in 1971 © Oxford University Press
OLGA DA POLGA. Illustrations © 2014 by Catherine Rayner. Used by permission of Kane Miller.
Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
Full Disclosure: Olga da Polga by Michael Bond & Catherine Rayner, and received from Kane Miller, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”