I had dimly heard of "Olive the Other Reindeer" when I received a book of that title in the mail from Chronicle Books, but I'd never read the book, nor seen the TV movie. So I come to the story fresh with this review. Chronicle has produced a deluxe pop-up edition of this 10-year-old title, complete with scratch and sniff and lift-the-flap elements.
I found this story charming, and the production lively and entertaining. Olive is a small dog. One day she hears a song in which the refrain goes, as she perceives it, "Olive, the other reindeer" (as in '...used to laugh and call him names'). She concludes that since she's Olive, she must be a reindeer, and that since it's time for reindeer to report to the North Pole, she had better head off. She has to take several buses, but she gets there just in time to head off with Santa's sleigh. Of course she's not a flying reindeer, so she has a bit of trouble, but eventually her unique strengths enable her to save the day. There's not much conflict, but it's a happy holiday story.
The illustrations are digitally rendered, with a Colorforms feel to them (colorful shapes set on a background). Most of the pages are quite busy, a riot of colors and shapes. The text acts as illustration in some cases too, with large bold letters for the word "Crash!", and falling gumdrop candies described in gumdrop-like colors. Every page also has some textured element, from glittering stars to flaps big and small to partially attached cardboard shapes (like a Santa in his sleigh, perched precariously, the picture moving, on top of a tree). The scratch and sniff elements include gingerbread and gumdrops. Near the end is a gorgeous, full-page pop-up of Santa's Castle. There's a lift-able landing pad for the sleigh, handily labeled "Land here").
In short, this book promises hours of entertainment for 3 to 6 year olds. The new edition of Olive, the Other Reindeer would make an excellent holiday gift for any young child. You might pair it with Robin Pulver's Christmas for a Kitten, which has much more realistic illustrations, and see which approach most pleases your young friends.
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.