Folk Art Wind Sculpture
Olivia's Black, White and Red Spaghetti


by Ian Falconer

Olivia is a precious little pig who reminds us of everything wonderful about being a child. She is full of joie de vivre and panache, curiosity and confidence, unending energy, humor and determination. She is the pig we would all like to be.

Author/artist Ian Falconer created a book whose text consists of a few well-chosen words that follow our little heroine through a typical day of trying on 17 outfits to get dressed in the morning to negotiating with her mother on the number of bedtime stories at night. In between we follow her on amusing outings to the beach and the museum and a few mishaps at home.

Lucky for us, Olivia doesn’t do anything in a small way and her self-confidence knows no limits. She considers herself a prima ballerina, a sand castle architect, an equal to Maria Callas and a superior painter whose skills far exceed those of Jackson Pollock. The brief text is accompanied by gorgeous illustrations executed in charcoal and lipstick-red gouache to accent the antics of our beloved Olivia. This is a read for everyone. 

In this Issue

You Might Also Like: Olivia Helps with Christmas


Olivia's Black, White and Red Spaghetti

Inspired by Olivia's tri-color illustrations and the nice dinner Mother serves after the trip to the museum, we created this Black, White and Red Spaghetti recipe to prepare and share with your young readers. 

Young chefs will be eager to help rinse the beans and then to stir them into the prepared sauce. They can add the final touches to their scrumptious creation by topping the spaghetti with the crumbled feta cheese. Bon Appetit!

Olivia Homemade Spaghetti Sauce - Olivia -

Olivia Black White and Red Spaghetti - Olivia -

Olivia's Black White and Red Spaghetti - Olivia -


Olivia's Black, White and Red Spaghetti


  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans
  • 6 ounces dry spaghetti, preferably whole wheat
  • 4 ounces feta cheese
  1.  In a medium saucepan combine tomatoes and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The tomatoes will thicken into sauce. 
  2. Drain black beans in a colander and rinse thoroughly.
  3. Add beans to tomato sauce and stir to combine. 
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. 
  5. Combine pasta and sauce. Sprinkle feta over the top of the pasta. 

Download a Printable Version of Olivia's Spaghetti Recipe


Olivia Book Play: Learning About Jackson Pollock

Learn All About Jackson Pollock

A portion of the Jackson Pollock painting Autumn Rhythm #30 is featured in Olivia. Upon seeing it at the museum, Olivia is quite sure that she could "do that in about five minutes." This provides the perfect opportunity to explore one of the great American artists with the following videos, links, and info!

The following video comes directly from the MoMA site. Have some fun learning about how Jackson Pollock created his paintings. It’s really fun!


Virtual Drip Painting

Your young reader (and you too, it's addictive!) will love to try his or her hand at making a virtual Jackson Pollock drip painting. You can also download the Jackson Pollock iPhone app. Check out one of my creations:

Virtual Jackson Pollock Drip Painting


Inside Scoop

In the Jackson Pollock edition of Inside Scoop designed especially for kids from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., you and your reader can read a biography of the artist, see examples of his work and pictures of him painting, and find more children's books featuring his paintings. 


Olivia Jackson Pollock Painting

 After learning about Jackson Pollock, trying painting some pictures in his signature style!

Drip Paintings


  • A large piece of heavy paper or cardboard
  • Paint – We drew our inspiration from Olivia's illustrations and used red, black, and white
  • Painting tools – paintbrushes, sticks, paint stirrers, toothbrush, etc.

Note: We chose to do our painting outside on the grass but if your young reader is working on an area that needs to be protected it is best to cover the area with newspaper.

  1. Lay the paper or cardboard on the work surface and let the fun begin! Splatter, drip, and drizzle paint onto the paper with a variety of painting tools. You can also squirt paint directly from the bottles. This activity is all about the process.

Here's how ours progressed:

Kids Olivia Jackson Pollock Art Project - Olivia -

Kids Olivia Jackson Pollock Art Project - Olivia -

Kids Olivia Jackson Pollock Art Project - Olivia -

Kids Olivia Jackson Pollock Art Project - Olivia -

Kids Olivia Jackson Pollock Art Project - Olivia -

Kids Olivia Jackson Pollock Art Project - Olivia -

Kids Olivia Jackson Pollock Art Project - Olivia -

Kids Olivia Jackson Pollock Art Project - - Olivia -

 This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Off the Shelf!


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.