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*Merry Christmas, Ollie! (Gossie & Friends)* by Olivier Dunrea
Also by Olivier Dunrea:

Gossie & Gertie

Merry Christmas, Ollie! (Gossie & Friends)
by Olivier Dunrea
Ages 2-5 32 pages Houghton Mifflin August 2008 Hardcover    

Gossie and Gertie sit and wait patiently on top of a mound of snow. Booboo and Peedie sit and wait patiently on top of a pumpkin. Ollie can’t sit and wait anywhere, though, and he can’t be patient. He wants Christmas NOW, but it’s taking forever for Father Christmas Goose to arrive. When Ollie’s not listening and looking for Father Christmas Goose, he’s asking “Is Christmas here yet?” His gosling friends try to whisper reassuring words to him, but still Ollie shouts “I want Christmas NOW!”

When Father Christmas Goose’s arrival is just minutes away, the only gosling waiting outside to meet him is Ollie. With Gossie, Gertie, Booboo and Peedie back in their nests, Ollie decides to wait these last few minutes on top of a snow bank. He now waits so patiently that snow piles up around his feet - but it’s worth it! Ollie receives a personal Christmas greeting from Father Christmas Goose and his very own Christmas present. Now Ollie can finally shout, “Christmas is here!”

These have to be the five cutest goslings ever drawn. They do have a cute physical appearance with their small eyes, huge beaks and round bodies, but it’s what they’re wearing that really sets them apart. In this book, Gossie, Gertie and Ollie wear long striped stocking caps on their head, and Gossie and Gertie wear colorful boots on their feet. Booboo’s head is covered with a fuzzy cone-shaped hat, while Peedie’s head is covered with a red baseball cap.

Excitement and disappointment are expressed not only through body posture but through the hats as well. Perhaps more optimistic in nature than Ollie when waiting for Father Christmas Goose, Gossie and Gertie’s long stocking hats often point up in the air, while Ollie’s stocking cap often droops and drags on the ground.

The vibrant reds and yellows of Olivier Dunrea’s ink and watercolor illustrations catch the eye. His abundant use of white space and short sentences give Merry Christmas, Ollie! a clean and organized look. Ollie adds drama to the story with his shouting and stomping, but the fluffy snowflakes falling from the sky that dot many of the pictures, and the blankets of snow already covering the beehive and chimney outside, contribute a sense of stillness and quiet.

In addition, Dunrea draws some small extras on several pages - an egg on the butter churn, a mouse on the ledge, and a pot on the snowman’s head. These extras, which add something a little quirky and a little unexpected to the illustrations, imbue an already charming book with even more appeal.

Author and painter Olivier Dunrea graduated college with a Masters of Arts Degree in Theater Arts and Music. Since his picture book Eddy B, Pigboy was published in 1983, he has written many books for children including Gossie, Gossie and Gertie, Ollie, Ollie the Stomper, Peedie and Booboo - all of which star one or more of the goslings featured in this story. Dunrea lives in New York.

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  Tanya Boudreau/2008 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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