Ollie and Claire, the Perfect Pair!

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.”                                                                                                                                                                               smaller_OC_09

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!

The Note

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.

Happy reading!

Jill Esbaum


Jill Esbaum

Jill Esbaum has been picture book crazy since her 3 kids were little, and especially so after her first was published in 2004 (Stink Soup). Recent titles: Bird Girl - Gene Stratton-Porter Shares Her Love of Nature With the World, Parrotfish Has a Superpower, Stinkbird Has a Superpower, Sea Turtle Swims, Kangaroo Hops, Jack Knight's Brave Flight, We Love Babies!, Where'd My Jo Go?, Frog Boots, How to Grow a Dinosaur, Frankenbunny, If a T. Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party, Elwood Bigfoot– Wanted: Birdie Friends!, Teeny Tiny Toady, I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!, and more. Coming in 2025: Polecat Has a Superpower!, It's Corn-Picking Time!, Giraffe Runs. She's also the author of many nonfiction books for young readers, as well as an early graphic reader series, Thunder & Cluck. Learn more at http://jillesbaum.com.


  1. This sounds terrific! I can’t wait to read it!

  2. I am definitely looking for this one.

  3. 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!

  4. 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….)

  5. Perfect rhyme, meter AND plot! Can’t wait to read it.

  6. Debra Shumaker

    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…

  7. Thanks for sharing. This looks like a great one (and I was also thinking about the Pina Colada song!)

  8. This has always been one of my absolute favorite books -the perfect example of what a picture book should be. Love it!!

  9. 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!

  10. I love that song and I’m sure I’ll love this book!!! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Angie Quantrell

    Sounds like a fun book!

  12. These two friends are adorable! And such cute illustrations!

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. Thank you everyone for your awesome comments!!

  16. Thanks, Jill. This was a fun review to read. I look forward to reading the book!

  17. Oooh, haven’t read this one yet! Thanks for introducing me to it, Jill.

  18. I love adventures so I know I’ll love this book!

  19. 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​.

  20. Lisa Riddiough

    I love it! Thanks for the post!!

  21. I can’t wait to read this! Thanks, Jill!

  22. Looking forward to reading this, Jill. It sounds like a lot of fun and I love the illustrations. Thanks for writing about this one!

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