Remembering Olivia creator, Ian Falconer

Ian Falconer, author and illustrator of the Oliva book series passed away on March 7, 2023 at the age of 63.

Falconer was born in Ridgefield, Connecticut on August 25, 1959. He studied art history at New York University and painting at the Parsons School of Design in New York before completing his degree at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. Falconer was a well-known set designer for theater, opera, and ballet, and designed thirty covers for the New Yorker magazine. In addition to his Olivia series, he wrote a book called Two Dogs, which was published in 2022 and is about twin dachshunds named Augie and Perry (named after two of his nephews) who escape from their owners and proceed to wreak havoc. 

Ian Falconer

The booOlivia, a story about an energetic pig of the same name, was first published in 2000. Falconer was inspired to write the children’s story after spending time with his niece, Olivia. When asked, he spoke of his niece, “I was just entranced by her,” he said. “I wanted to make a little present for her, so I started working on the Olivia book.”  His illustrations throughout the book are charming, uncluttered images in tones of black and white with a splash of color, usually red, displaying Falconer's talent as an artist and the beauty of simplicity.

Falconer went on to write eight Olivia books in all.


Olivia won the 2001 Caldecott Honor award and is listed as one of the “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children” by the National Education Association, and listed in the Top 100 Picture Books of all time by the School Library Journal.

Other books by Ian Falconer:

Olivia Saves the Circus

Olivia-- and the Missing Toy

Olivia Forms A Band

Olivia Helps With Christmas

Olivia Goes to Venice

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses

Olivia the Spy

Two Dogs

News Source: New York Times, March 8, 2023, Ian Falconer, Creator of Olivia, the Energetic Piglet, Dies at 63 written by Neil Genzlinger.

Photo Source: Simon & Schuster