Friday, January 16, 2009

Olivia on Nick Jr.

I had just started at JCC when the first "Olivia" book came out. I remember walking into our faculty offices one morning and our Children's Literature Professor was reading snippets from the book and laughing hysterically. The scene in the award-winning book that had us all laughing was when Olivia starts her day by moving the cat.

Seriously, it’s funny.

Long before Anna was born, I went out and bought the first book, and it remains one of my favorites. The simple story of a very urban and culturally-smart pig and her family stole my heart. When they go to the beach, Olivia builds a sand version of the Empire State building. When they go to the Met, she stares at a Degas imagining that she is a ballet. When she sees a Pollack, she exclaims out loud that she could, indeed do that. Ian Falconer wrote the books for his sister’s family and made all the characters pigs because he believes that pigs look like kids with their big heads. I won’t lie, there is a pretty strong Gay sensibility in the stories, but that’s what makes them so refreshing. I am not sure what the author’s sexuality is, but I think he plays for our team. Olivia dreams of being a Supreme Court Justice and demands that Maria Callas’s biography be her bed time story. Honestly, how many heterosexuals know who Callas is or would even imagine hanging an Eleanor Roosevelt poster in their child’s room?
I began sharing this book with Anna the minute we were back home in Jackson from Ohio. She didn’t mind that we read it night after night, but she fell in love with the book, and we now own them all. Imagine our glee when an ad came on for the new “Olivia” cartoon on Nick Jr. Okay, I was stoked, Anna wanted more SpongeBob. I have set the DVR for next week when the show debuts.

Here are the details that I found on the web:

Nickelodeon has partnered with media content company Chorion to bring the bestselling Simon & Schuster Olivia books to life in a new animated TV series. The debut of this pre-school series is planned for the first quarter of 2009. Nickelodeon plans to launch the new 3D CGI series, which will include 26 half-hour episodes during the first quarter. Academy Award-nominated animation studio Brown Bag Films will be animating the project, and Teri Weiss will be the executive in charge with Chorion executive vice-president Diana Manson and creative director Megan Laughton. "Early in the development process, Ian encouraged us to consider 3D CGI for the adaptation to television," said Manson. "It was a brilliant idea, and it inspired us to find Brown Bag Films. They have been a wonderful partner, as have the team at Nickelodeon." Books will be featured prominently in the upcoming consumer products rollout. The Simon Spotlight and Simon Scribbles imprints of Simon and Schuster will be developing a robust television tie-in program with a myriad of formats, from storybooks to novelty and coloring books set to launch in late 2009. Olivia's imagination leads the way in this new series, which aims to foster the sense of make-believe and play that every pre-schooler has. The show will encourage children to be creative and to think beyond the scope of everyday parameters, instilling a sense that with a strong imagination, there are endless possibilities for any great idea. Mostly, the show, like this character, celebrates a spunky, confident personality who is always wondering "What if?"

Set your DVR, you won’t be disappointed.