Say hello to Ollie and Claire, buddy story extraordinaire, by Tiffany Strelitz Haber, illustrated by Matthew Cordell (Philomel, 2013).
Hello, Ollie. Hello, Claire. But, no. I’m saying it wrong, because these two do everything together every day. Hello, OllieandClaire. Here’s how Tiffany Strelitz Haber introduces them:
“Ollie and Claire were a tightly knit pair,/like hot buttered biscuits and jam./They frolicked by day at the park and the bay,/where they yodeled and yoga’d and swam.”
So everything’s going along smoothly, la-la-la, except that, secretly, it turns out Claire’s been feeling a little restless, a little bored. Things have grown a bit .. well, stale. Claire, it seems, has secretly been longing for adventure. Then she happens upon a sign – somebody’s looking for a travel friend for an around-the-world trip. A real, live adventure? Yeah, baby! Sign her up!
As you can tell from that opener above, this is a rhyming story, yessirree, and my favorite kind of rhyming story. One in which the lines are DENSE with character building and story. Feast your eyes (and ears) on this, the scene in which a wildly-enthusiastic Claire is hurriedly packing:
“Claire hurried home, where she tore through the closets/and gathered up all of her things:/a hat and some pants that were perfect for France,/pajamas and pink water wings,/toes shoes and snowshoes and go-with-the-flow shoes,/a thingamajig, and a kit./She squished and she pushed and she mushed it all in,/and then zipped it right up, and it fit!”
If that doesn’t whet your read-aloud appetite, I don’t know what will. At first, Claire’s sure Ollie won’t mind if she goes. After all, he isn’t one for adventure. Then she gets a call from Ollie, who tells her he won’t be around for a few days. Wait, what? She begins obsessing about what Ollie might be up to (without her?!), and before long she’s questioning whether or not she should even go on her journey.
I’m betting you know by now what happens when Claire goes to meet her mysterious travel partner. As I was reading this for the first time, I thought, “Oh! It’s the piña colada song for kids!” (officially titled Escape). So of course I had to ask Tiffany if that song was her inspiration. And it was! Another inside scoop – her original opening line was this: “Circle and square were a tightly knit pair.” That would have been an entirely different (and I’m sure awesome) story, wouldn’t it? But I love that she eventually found Ollie and Claire. If you love funny stories, buddy stories, or just zippy well-crafted rhymers, I hope you’ll find Ollie and Claire, too.
This sounds terrific! I can’t wait to read it!
It’s a hoot, Heather.
I am definitely looking for this one.
Worth a spot on your list, MD. 🙂
Precious! I definitely want to get hold of this book….without knowing for sure, I expect Ollie is the one wanting an adventure, too…..the possibilities for illustration seem endless with this theme…what fun!
Matthew Cordell’s illustrations fit the story to a T, Judiith! Quirky and endearing.
Thank you for asking about the pina colada song inspiration, Jill–I was wondering exactly the same thing! Wonderful rhyme–and Matthew Cordell’s illustrations are terrific too!
Yes! (And have you noticed that everybody’s comments are in italics lately? Wonder what’s up with that….)
Perfect rhyme, meter AND plot! Can’t wait to read it.
You’ll love it, Carole.
Ha! As I was reading your description I was thinking about the Pina Colada song (which I LOVE and now must go play it!) and have got to go find a copy of this book. I love this blog. Thanks for finding new favorite PBs for me!
Yeah, I think I’ve given myself an earworm, if this morning’s any indication. If you like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain…
Thanks for sharing. This looks like a great one (and I was also thinking about the Pina Colada song!)
Ha. Great minds…
This has always been one of my absolute favorite books -the perfect example of what a picture book should be. Love it!!
This is a very sweet book & I absolutely LOVE Matthew Cordell’s illustrations, both for this book, and his body of work in general. Thanks, Jill!
Yes, I should have mentioned those! They fit the quirky tone beautifully.
I love that song and I’m sure I’ll love this book!!! Thanks for sharing.
You’re very welcome, Kris.
Sounds like a fun book!
Find it, Angie. You’ll be glad you did!
These two friends are adorable! And such cute illustrations!
Claire’s yoga post cracks me up. 🙂
I never thought to find inspiration for a picture book in a song. What a fabulous idea! And many songs from the time when “Escape” came out told a story. Hmmm… Time to tune into my radio more and really listen. I have a feeling I’m going to love Ollie and Claire!
I know, right? This is one of those that had me going: Wish I’d thought of that!
Thank you so much for sharing this lively book! I’ve got it on HOLD at the library and look forward to my turn to enjoy this treat.
Great! I ended up buying a copy for my personal library. 🙂
Thank you everyone for your awesome comments!!
Because it’s a GREAT book, Tiffany!
Thanks, Jill. This was a fun review to read. I look forward to reading the book!
Thanks, Dorothy. Hope you love it!
Oooh, haven’t read this one yet! Thanks for introducing me to it, Jill.
You’re welcome, Patty! It’s a hoot. The perfect package.
I love adventures so I know I’ll love this book!
Ha. Yep! Thanks for reading, Claire.
What fun illustrations and I love the rhymes.
This book reminds me of another, similar friendship story by author/illustrator Lisa Jahn Clough, FELICITY AND CORDELIA: A Tale of Two Bunnies.
Ooh, I don’t know that one, Q. I’ll put it on my list. 🙂
I love it! Thanks for the post!!
I can’t wait to read this! Thanks, Jill!
Looking forward to reading this, Jill. It sounds like a lot of fun and I love the illustrations. Thanks for writing about this one!