Olive Oh Gets Creative

Jolly Fish. (Olive Oh). Sept. 2021. 112p. Tr $24.27. ISBN 9781631635663; pap. $6.99. ISBN 9781631635670.
Gr 2-4–Olive Sun-Hee Oh, an energetic Korean American third grader at Lakeview Elementary in Los Angeles, loves art and her family. When her teacher Mrs. Bramble announces an art show, Olive’s whole class is excited. Olive is confident in her talent and offers to help her best friend Marcus. As she sees other students’ ideas, however, she becomes riddled with uncertainty about her own project and ability. Despite her grandmother Halmoni’s attempts to ease her fears, Olive becomes more nervous as time passes. But her older siblings work with her to help her overcome her artist’s block. The themes of family and following your dream can be a little heavy-handed at times; however, references to sibling tiffs and reconciliations will surely resonate. Likable Olive is well written, as is Halmoni. Readers are sure to enjoy glimpses of South Korean customs, vocabulary, and food. Bartel’s illustrations add dimension to the plot, and discussion questions are available on back pages. Youngsters who enjoy Monica Brown’s “Lola Levine” and Zanib Mian’s “Planet Omar” series will like this title, too.
VERDICT A sweet story of family, friendship, and daring to dream. Kim’s story of a dedicated artist is sure to ring true with children with similar aspirations.

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