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Olga and the Smelly thing from Nowhere by Elise Gravel

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

Olga loves animals because they are much nicer than people. For example, her spider friend who lives in the bathroom is much more fun to have conversations with than her neighbors are. Naturally, Olga is very excited when she discovers that there is a new species of animal living in her yard. She names it the Olgamus Ridiculous, and she uses the scientific method to document her findings about the strange creature. There are still many unknowns, though: Where did it come from? Why does its poo look like skittles?




Science (kind of)



This is one of the books I read with my younger book club (read more about the book clubs here). The club seemed to love the book, because it was hilarious. Give any eight year-old this book and they will be laughing out loud. Even I was laughing sometimes! I did have a big issue with the way Olga's neighbors are portrayed, though. Olga's neighbors are your classic mean girl stereotype. They don't seem to have any real emotions, and all they care about is looks and gossip. In the end, they say things to Olga that technically are not unkind, so kids then say "but they became nice, so it's OK". I don't think it is OK, though, because they still aren't treated like real people. They become 'the annoying neighbors that aren't mean anymore but we still don't like them'. I think that it is harmful for any characters to be treated as though they have no emotions, especially in a book for young kids.

In my book club, we play a role-playing game that centers around the characters and places in our books. After we read chapters including Olga's neighbors, the kids in my book club began being very unkind to the neighbors in our game. This is an example of how this kind of story directly leads kids to behave in unkind ways.




Makes it seem like people you don't like don't have emotions

Encourages unkindness


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