Olive, the Other Reindeer - Deluxe Edition
By J.otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh
Chronicle Books, $19.95
40 pp.; ISBN-13: 978-0811857192
Review by Amy Brozio-Andrews
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the publication of Olive, the Other Reindeer, Chronicle Books has issued a brand-spankin' new deluxe edition, complete with flaps kids can open, scratch and sniff pages, and a pop-up "grand finale."
Little Olive the dog enjoys a walk every day, no matter the season. One winter's day, she overhears the song "Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" being played and mishears the lyric "all of the other reindeer" for "Olive, the other reindeer." Her sudden realization that she must be a reindeer and not a dog drives her to high-tail it to the North Pole, arriving just in time to make the soon-departing sled. Santa knows dogs can't fly but he doesn't have time to protest, he's got a tight schedule to keep to. And so it comes to pass that Olive gets to tag along with Santa and his reindeer-led sled, tied to the reins with ribbon.
Obstacle after obstacle dogs Santa though, from a high-speed sled-runner tussle with a tree to falling gumdrops and flutes. Fortunately, Olive's skills and talents mean she's in the right place at the right time to help Santa time and time again, keeping him on track for the Christmas Eve deliveries. And just like the famed Rudolph, it's Olive who comes to the rescue at the last minute, getting Santa over that final hurdle back to the North Pole on Christmas morning, just in time for Mrs. Claus's special treats.
The book's fun expansion of the holiday scene to include a can-do dog is charming and lively, a contemporary twist on the well-loved story of Rudolf. While Santa and his reindeer are welcoming to Olive, it's not really clear that Olive has a lot to bring to the expedition, that is, until Olive proves her worth by getting Santa out of one jam after another, earning her a very special gift from Santa's sack.
This straightforward tale is sweetly told, keeping the focus on the holiday spirit. Each problem that comes up for Santa and his reindeer is addressed with a light touch that showcases Olive's resourcefulness. Kids who are familiar with the song "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" are most likely to catch on to the story right away, but the book's appeal is such that knowing the song isn't a requirement for enjoyment.
The heavy paper pages of this hardcover book should stand up to years of enjoyment, both at Christmastime and throughout the year. J.otto Seibold's characteristic artwork is energetic and charming. Bright colors and bold designs give kids lots to see and do, with cleverly placed peek-a-book windows and scratch-and-sniff spots ensuring kids get to take an active part in the story on almost every page. The big pop-up ending is a surprise, concluding the story with a dramatic flair and making Olive, the Other Reindeer the kind of book your kids will be poring over on their own long after you've finished reading it several times.
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