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The Tales of Olga da Polga

Posted on Oct 15, 2011

Michael Bond
with illustrations by Catherine Rayner
(Oxford University Press)

Olga da Polga is no ordinary guinea-pig. Opinionated, self-observed and rather greedy, she is , as the narrator describers her at the beginning of the tale, “the sort of guinea-pig who would go places”. When she finally leaves the pet shop for her new home and life, she finds herself having to get used to a new hutch and some new neighbours (Noel the cat, Fangio the hedgehog, and Graham the tortoise). But old habits die hard and Olga soon finds herself telling wild tales again and getting herself into all sorts of mischief. Her new friends are not quite sure whether to believe her or not, but soon get tangled in all the fun. Life sure is not dull with Olga da Polga!

I have many memories of the books I read during my childhood, but few are as vivid as my enjoyment of the Olga da Polga books (Charlotte Parlotte in French); I can still see myself looking for and borrowing them from our local library. It was therefore with a certain amount of trepidation  that I read this book to my children, hoping that they too would love the charming simplicity of the tale, the cheekiness of its main character and the overall joy of reading a lovely classic story. They loved it, thankfully, and since then we have acquired this beautiful gift edition from OUP, released to celebrate Olga’s 40th birthday. This new hardback gift edition is illustrated by award-winning illustrator Catherine Rayner, whose illustrations bring a beautiful new life to this story. A master at drawing fauna, Rayner has captured all the cheekiness of Olga’s character as well as the nostalgic, Good Life -esque  element of the story. The artwork also manages to convey the innocence of the story, something that surely must be cherished in a society where children seem encouraged to lose theirs so quickly.

This new edition of The Tales of Olga da Polga is a beautifully packaged little book which will undoubtedly introduce new audiences to this fantastic classic children’s book.

All illustrations  © Catherine Rayner
Many thanks to OUP for sending me a review copy of “The Tales of Olga da Polga”

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