Title: The Tales of Olga da Polgathe tales of olga da polga
Author: Michael Bond
Illustrator: Hans Helweg
Pages: 128
Recommended Ages: 9-12
Star Rating: ★★★★

I don’t know if any of you have read the Paddington Bear series – I own a couple of them, but haven’t gotten around to them. Anyway, Olga da Polga is by the same author, and he claimed that this was his best work!

The Story.

There always was an adventurous charm about Olga da Polga – just her name was proof of that. None of the other guinea pigs in the pet store doubted that Olga da Polga was a guinea pig who would have a sparkling life… once she left the pet store.

Olga da Polga always imagined the thrilling scene when she would be purchased. Her own thrilling farewell to her playmates, their rousing applause… only that’s not how it happened. She was snatched up right in the middle of her breakfast (how rude!) and whisked away before she could even blow a kiss to her friends. What an unpromising beginning to the adventures of Olga da Polga!

Will life outside the pet shop be everything Olga imagined it to be?

Discussion.

What a loveable book! Olga is such a funny, squishy protagonist – and not only does she run into some adventures along the course of her story, she also learns a few character lessons along the way. For example…

Olga, like many people, does not like to be bested in an argument. She also likes to exaggerate her own experience, and stretches the truth on several occasions. However, these all come back to nip her. When she tells Graham the turtle that the sun has started rising in the west, she enjoys watching all of the animals reacting with fear – until she takes a nap and loses her orientation, waking up to find the sun on the “wrong” side of her. Then she’s terrified! She enjoys telling about the time the Surrey Puma nearly ate her right up, and spreads the tale of her adventure far and wide – until she learns that it was just Noel, the cat. Then she’s embarrassed!

She also enjoys telling tales about her guinea pig ancestors – how they lost their long tails (by lending them to a prince so that he could make a rope to rescue a princess out of a tower), and how they gained their shrill squeak (after an attempt to build a ladder to the moon which resulted in several guinea pigs falling from quite a fearsome height). These are a tad fantastical but harmless.

In one chapter, Olga’s owners celebrate Christmas and give Olga a gift which they say is from Father Christmas.

In Olga da Polga, animals talk amongst themselves, but not with humans. They can understand what humans are saying, but do not have the ability to speak English, although Olga can spell her name.

Conclusion. Very, very sweet with excellent character lessons.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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