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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Olivia by Ian Falconer

OliviaBetsySince Kate had such strong feelings about Madeline and Eloise, I figured that we had to go with what I consider to be the third in the triumvirate of . . . let’s call ’em strong-minded ladies. If ever you’ve wanted to know the difference between miniature pigs, pot-bellied pigs, and razorback pigs, boy, have I got the podcast for you! We talk about who the most famous female pig in children’s literature is (honestly, I’ve nothing against Peppa, but wasn’t she a television star first?), which book you’d want to club someone to death with (OED for the win!), and whether or not Shel Silverstein had “a treacly streak” (he did).

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or your preferred method of podcast selection.


Show Notes:

– Here’s the New Yorker series I refer to when I talk about Ian Falconer. The blog post was called New Yorker/Picture Book Artists: Ian Falconer – Beyond Olivia. The lady that preceded Olivia (the Easily Shocked Old Lady or ESOL) warranted her own book, but it never happened. Notice how her wardrobe compares to Olivia’s, though:



Who wore it better?

– Please bear in mind that this was the “Advance Praise” before the book even came out. Seriously, how did Falconer get these folks?


– How many times have I read this book and not realized that Olivia’s little brother has the author’s name?


– The blog Spirit of the Bees back in 2009 did just the loveliest post by a grandmother about how she helped turn her two and a half-year-old granddaughter into the paper bag monster.




– These are the ears of a cat who is faking that he’s not paying attention, but is, in fact, monitoring you closely:


– Legitimately one of my favorite images in a picture book of all time. This drawing alone earned it my final rating.


– Do these shadows match?


– Not a bad pseudo-Pollack, if we do say so ourselves:


– Is it weird that I’ve never seen a picture book biography of Maria Callas? I think this was intended as a joke when this book was first published but these days it would be a legitimate subject for a bio for young kids.


– Came in at #54 on the Top 100 Picture Books Poll.

– This is the cover that was, I was told, based on WWII propaganda posters:


– I know it’s a grown-up thing Kate likes, but I’m loving this children’s literature inspired board game choice of hers.


– And here’s the present I gave to Kate. Alan Silberberg sent Kate his latest picture book Meet the Latkes:


It really is funny.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Sara O'Leary says:

    Saving the podcast for later but just have to say I LOVE OLIVIA SO MUCH.
    Also, did you read the story about Falconer’s niece Olivia going to one of his book signings and then signing books for people? (IAnd think the Ian referenced in the book is actually his nephew.)

    • I’m pretty sure he is: the dedication to the book is “To the real Olivia and Ian, and to William, who didn’t arrive in time to appear in this book.” An explanation for the baby who shows up in later books.

      • Elizabeth Bird says:

        Ahhh. Thanks to both of you, Sara and Dan. This explains much. I’ll include all of this info in an upcoming episode.

    • Ah, I’d always assumed they were his kids. Shows what I know.

  2. Jason Wells says:

    Betsy, you do know I was the publicist on the first two Olivia books right? I sent Ian on his only tours. He never toured again. Great post.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I most certainly did not know that! I swear, publicists should write memoirs. That’s where all the good stuff is. One of these days I’m just going to interview the lot of you.