Oliver by Birgitta Sif
Oliver was different than everyone else. He spent time in his own little world, visited only by his friends who were his toys and puppets. They played endlessly together, having adventures across the living room. When his family got together, Oliver played by himself under the table, wishing that he didn’t have to be there at all. Then there was the day when he played the piano for his friends, but no one bothered to listen. Oliver felt different all over again. The next day though, when playing tennis alone, his ball bounced and bounced away. It landed near a girl, who was herself playing tennis alone. Yes, Oliver was different but it turns out that Olivia was too.
This debut picture book speaks directly to those of us who are introverted and who feel a bit different too. Oliver lives in a world that may seem lonely to some, but is also obviously rich with imagination and creativity. Sif takes care to make sure that it is evident that Oliver is not unhappy, he prefers to be alone. I also particularly enjoyed that the book does not have parents worried about making Oliver less different. Instead it is all about Oliver’s own point of view.
Sif’s illustrations have a great softness to them. The colors are muted, the backgrounds on the pages are softly colored too. Children looking closely will be able to find mice on each page as they watch Oliver’s life. They visit the library with him, listen to him play the piano and only disappear when Oliver is feeling lonely. They are a wonderful whimsical touch.
This strong picture book looks at introverted and solitary people with a warm fondness that will make even the most introverted reader want to visit Oliver and become his friend too. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Candlewick Press.