The Tales of Olga Da Polga by Michael Bond
|The Tales of Olga Da Polga by Michael Bond|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: There are some charms to this elderly piece about a pet guinea pig, but not enough we won't find elsewhere.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 160||Date: October 2011|
Meet Olga, a proud, loveable and loving guinea pig. We see her first, as does a girl called Karen, living in a pet shop with some friends, and after a cycle of short stories she will end by living with friends of very different kinds. In between she has to experience life with humans (or sawdust people) and survive scrapes in the wilder world, but still has time to explain where guinea pigs' tails went and how they got their squeak.
This easy, enjoyable mix of 'Just So' story, adventure of a pet, and highly anthropomorphised creature tale is forty years old, hence this laudable hardback. I can't remember it, nor the five other books in the series, but there's enough here to see why it went down well. It seems at times to be self-contained stories, but they do merge to one longer tale as Olga has her first six months or so with Karen.
There is also a sort of amateurish charm to it (Olga's new friends include a hedgehog, of all things) but more comes along from the age of the piece. Olga changes hands for twenty-two and a half new pence, and one story revolves around Olga watching TV with her sawdust people. Catherine Rayner's new illustrations show that cutely, and clearly with a vintage cathode ray tube and not what this modern copy's audience will identify with.
I can't pretend to like the pictures that much on the whole, for they have a scrappy quality at odds with Olga's warm personality, and these black and white reproductions of the paintwork can offer pretty decoration but not good character for the animals. Equally, though, I don't see quite enough charm or individuality in Olga, the mannerisms of the telling, or the story. Whatever our generation we'll have seen pets in the wild, pets fighting for their corner, pets looking on human foibles etc, before. Dress it as a classic, but there's very little unique here, meaning Paddington Bear is probably the only Bond series I'd consider essential purchases.
I must still thank the OUP people for my review copy.
For another revived classic recently published in lavish hardback for this audience (and their parents), we recommend Mr Bliss by J R R Tolkien.
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