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Olivia Kidney (Olivia Kidney #1)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  861 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
Olivia Kidney's new apartment building is crazy Talking lizards crawling everywhere. A tropical rainforest growing in 7B. Even an apartment made entirely of glass Maybe her father will get fired from his job as the building super, and they can leave. But Olivia is tired of moving from place to place, from school to school. What she wouldn't give for a little slice of sanit ...more
Paperback, 159 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Serres (first published 2003)
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Oct 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Olivia Kidney splashed onto the scene in 2003. Anyone with a bizarre name like Olivia Kidney is bound to have adventures. And so she does, partly because of her dad. Olivia’s dad is an apartment building superintendent. He doesn’t know how to fix things and so is always getting fired. Of course, this means lonely Olivia is always traveling new places and meeting new people. So much so that Potter has already written three books about Olivia. In the first, Olivia’s new home is an apartment buildi ...more
Mark Flowers
Feb 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I think I may have found my new favorite children's author. In some ways, this reads as a warm up for Kneebone Boy (my favorite children's book of 2010), aimed at a slightly younger audience. Quirky characters, mysterious happenings, possibly supernatural occurences, heavy duty themes disguised in a humorous package. But in other ways--especially the 3rd person narration (vs. Kneebone's 1st)--it is utterly different, and yet just as good. I can't wait to read the others in this series.
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very Strange book. If you like the strange and unusual, then the storyline will grip you. Too much fantasy being touted as Olivia is on bad acid trip. Reminds me of the Sixth Sense..."I see dead people." I remember being into the "scary" books as a middle schooler, but this goes beyond scary into the realm of seances and conjourings. I'm sure there are young readers out there who are into that, but, yeah, not my cup of tea. Fans of Dahl will like Potter.
Angela Tuson
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
A really cheery, quirky story about a community of eccentric neighbours who help a girl in really odd ways. Olivia and her dad move apartments often because he's a useless building 'super' (although he's a nice dad) who always finds the residents grumpy. One day Olivia closes her keys and while she waits in the hallway for her dad a neighbour invites her to wait in their apartment - and it's a completely transparent home of glass and plastic, including the floor, through which they can see the f ...more
Pop Bop
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Postmodernism and Magical Realism for Middle Graders

I am a big fan of Ellen Potter's, and have been since I first encountered "The Kneebone Boy". This book, "Olivia Kidney", was her debut effort, and I regret having taken so long to get to it. It is, in the literal and full and literary sense of the word, fabulous. I've probably overwritten this review and made it sound a little pompous, but really what I want to do is just give this book its due.

Many have commented on the story of Olivia Kidney
Oct 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: not sure
Recommended to Jess by: Fantasy In the House annotation project
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Good, but weirdly dark - which, I'm gathering, is kind of Ellen Potter's thing. Here's hoping that none of the parents of my 3rd-5th graders in book club are upset about the themes of murder/suicide/insanity/cancer/divorce/drowning/child death. Ahem...
And also, here's hoping that the kids are able to handle all of those things. It certainly does provide excellent material for group discussion. In particular, I'm eager to ask them, "Did you find any parts of the book to be scary and/or upsetting?
Cayla Mcelwee
Jul 19, 2011 rated it liked it
For one of my summer reading books, I chose to read Olivia Kidney. It was a good book, but it didn't grab my interest throughout the entire book. Even though you can't, if I could I would rate this book as 3.5 stars instead of 3. I think it had a very interesting plot, and a good choice of characters. Also I thought it was really cool how there was a story from a long time ago, and Olivia (the main character) was meeting people in her apartment building that were part of the story she kept heari ...more
Jun 27, 2010 added it
I was just reading a negative review for The Mysterious Benedict Society and felt a wave of consensus rushing over me. I have a 9-year old daughter who keeps falling asleep when I read her this book. While she was away for the weekend, I finished it and thought I understood the problem: it's written for the parents not the kids, at least the parents who want to feel clever for grasping a plot about 'grown-up' problems like bureaucracy, mind-control, and subliminal messages. Far superior to this ...more
Oct 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Olivia Kidney's father is a building superindendant, and so they have moved again, to a snooty new building in a new place. While for about thirty seconds I was sure this was going to be a Clementine ripoff, Olivia is all her own girl, with all her own adventure.

Olivia comes home to discover that she has lost her keys and is locked out. As she tries to get into the building, and then into her apartment, she encounters a slew of interesting and odd characters--Branwell Biffmeyer, oldest of eleven
Jul 01, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: 9-12 year old girls...
Shelves: 7up
For a story that's all over the place (subbasements, dessert islands, an apartment made entirely of glass with a see-through floor so you can spy on the neighbors and prevent their children from drinking drain cleaner...), I didn't really feel like it took me anywhere. Plus it's sort of a downer. Olivia's mother has left the family (not sure why yet), and her older brother recently died of cancer, so, quite rightly, Olivia's pretty lonely. She's taken to communing with (or attempting to, anyway) ...more
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
A riveting read, good for middle grades. 12-year-old Olivia has recently moved to a new apartment building with her father, who has taken the job of custodian. olivia quickly learns that the building is full of very quirky characters: a woman whose floors are entirely made of glass, a mysterious boy whose large family keeps goats in their apartment, a woman who casts spells on people, a psychic, a talking lizard. Both Olivia and her father are weighed down with sadness, missing Olivia's brother ...more
Jan 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Another children’s book I sought out based on BookSense recommendations. Strange little story. Let’s see if I can summarize the plot. Olivia moves with her father, a building super, to yet another apartment building. This building is populated with a wacky assortment of inhabitants, including a woman who thinks she is royalty, a woman who has turned her apartment into a tropical rainforest, a vast number of lizards (who, Olivia is told, are really men who have been changed into lizards), a woman ...more
Oct 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Boyo and I are listening to this on tape in the car, and then I got the book out to check out the pictures and finished it in book form. It's funny how different a book and a book on tape can be - with the tape you hear all the reader's nuances and the tone is definitely changed, but the characters really come to life. On paper you get pictures and get to use your imagination more.[return]Not that that has anything to do with reviewing this book, which I really enjoyed. The stories were hilariou ...more
Anča Pham
Oct 17, 2014 rated it liked it
I read this book like 3 years ago (I was 12 or 13yo) but I still remember a few things.
I didn't enjoy the book as much as I expected - I assume I judged the book by its cover. I remember thinking: "This is insane!", "So cold!" and "Well, that's a little too much, don't you think?". I was scared (I thnik ?) and confused. I particulary hated the ending - I needed some kind of a conclusion after what I've been through! So I gave the book 2.5 out of five. I didn't know it's the first book in the ser
Not quite what I was expecting, but definitely excellent. Olivia has moved for the fourth time in two years and is feeling sad and alone. When she is locked out of her aparement, she begins to have a series of adventures as she uncovers the extraordinary and amazingly interconnected lives of her new neighbors. Olivia is also coping with a death in her family and is desperately trying to get in touch with her brother in the afterlife.

Olivia's adventures are zaney and flow one right into the next,
KidsFiction Teton County Library
J Potter

Talking lizards, glass walled apartments, seances and mysterious friends are all a part of this page turner! Olivia has moved 4 times in 2 years because of her dad, though he tries his best, he isn't the best apartment superintendant. It's hard always being the new girl in school, and after a terrible day of being teased, Olivia finds herself locked out of her apartment! The next few hours of exploration involve plenty of adventure, mystery, suspense, and even a few brushes with the para
Wow. I'm still not sure what I think of this. A little bit of Alice in Wonderland, bizarre characters, very strange apartments, seances, and a surprising emotional depth. It is perhaps most similar to Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters, but it stakes out its own, strange territory. I'll cheerfully read more by Potter, because I have no way of guessing where she's going to take Olivia next.
Kim B.
There are few things I like better than when I pick up a book I've only heard of once and know nothing about, and then having low expectations read the whole thing in just a pair of sittings and discover that I absolutely, positively love it. I can't believe this book isn't more well-known. It's not quite like anything else I've ever read and it's hard to categorize it because it's so "out there" and so "realistic" at the same time. It also packs a bit of an emotional punch as well; I almost cri ...more
Feb 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up out of our donations and I thought I might read it aloud to Grade 4 and 5, but I'm not sure… It was a very clever book, with excellent plot twists and mystery, but it might be a bit too dark for me to feel
comfortable using it for a read aloud book with my students considering we have very little
time for discussion after. I'll ask their teachers For me, I'm glad I took the time to read it even if I don't use it, because it was a quick, fun read with surprising depth and dark
Jane ☾
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ellen Potter has been one of my favourite authors since I was about eight years old (I'm 14 now). I believe I started with Olivia Kindey and my oh my is it ever magical. The cast of characters are so unique and beautiful and Olivia herself has just the best personality. And by best I mean she's snarky and stubborn and hilarious. I love all the other characters and their stories too. The lady with the glass apartment and the lady with lizard house that's set at 100 degrees. How does she come up w ...more
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: olivia-kidney
This was a very good book. It is about a girl with a father that keeps on getting fired from being a superintendent. Olivia the girl experiences the very strange apartment, one room is made of glass and another is very hot with lizards and plants making it feel tropical. Olivia can speak to ghosts and her brother is dead so Olivia wants to get in touch with him. There is a old woman who needs someone to take over her job of contacting ghosts. Olivia looks for friends and seems to get a few frien ...more
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
I read #2 and #3 before #1, and it’s clear that she’s been getting better and better. This one, #1, was no slouch of a book, though. Fabulous kids’ fare—ghosts and magic conch shells and pirates and one crazy old woman who sees what's happening in the apartment below through her glass floors—what an imagination Ms. Potter has! Does she get help from some childish ghostwriters (pun) somewhere?

I solemnly swear I’d have loved this stuff just as much as a kid as I do now. It makes me want to go pull
Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book was often fun with a glass room, lizard men, enchantment, and a brownies, yet, I didn't care for the dead who didn't know they were dead. The writing was good, yet, I like my children to read books with positive and learning characters, not complaining ones (they know how to do this already). All in all, this book had a lot of great parts but didn't end with much of a moral or message.
Dec 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is such a cute series. It's set in New York City in what is vaguely the present day, although I definitely get a Royal Tennenbaums feel of ersatz 70's NYC. Either way, the protagonist is a spunky middle schooler named Olivia Kidney. She's a strong heroine without being all grrl powery. Potter is a refreshing voice in tweeny literature. It's wholesome without being oldfashioned or prudish. My children will definitely be reading this series (and NOT the Clique or Gossip Girls, etc)
Edward Shiener
Aug 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Libby Ames
Apr 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
An intriguing, quick read, Olivia Kidney is a great character for readers 8-10 years old. Her story is mystery and fantasy with the strong theme of loyalty and family solidarity. As Olivia meets all kinds of interesting people in her apartment building, she learns how strange and interconnected the world is. This is a great one for reading aloud together, because while meant for children, the story is also fun for adults.
Rachel Inbar
Sep 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Although my girls claim to have enjoyed this book, I found it spooky, unnecessarily complicated and somewhat morbid. I found myself skipping parts that I found inappropriate (what 7-year-old needs to hear about a pirate who enjoys strangling people?) Some parts of the book were interesting, but overall I would have preferred not to have read this book.
Olivia and her father have moved into a new apartment building in New York and the place is quite odd. Among others she meets a woman who lives in a glass apartment and a woman whose singing is so appealing that people can't stay away from her. Although the story was kind of weird, I really did enjoy the book.
Jan 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: j-adventure
Olivia is a girl living in a very unusual apartment building where she meets some very unusual people. Frankly, I was a little disappointed by this one. Not only was it nothing like the description I'd read (I can't remember if it was in the catalog or from the back of the book), but it also seemed like Ms. Potter could have done so much more with the idea.
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i love this book 2 8 Nov 24, 2011 05:35PM  
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Ellen Potter is the author of many children's books, including the Olivia Kidney series, Pish Posh, SLOB, and The Kneebone Boy. Her non-fiction book, Spilling Ink; a Young Writer’s Handbook, was co-authored by Anne Mazer

Olivia Kidney was awarded Child magazine’s “Best Children’s Book Award” and was selected as one of the “Books of the Year” by Parenting magazine.

SLOB is on more than 10 state book
More about Ellen Potter...

Other Books in the Series

Olivia Kidney (3 books)
  • Olivia Kidney and the Exit Academy
  • Olivia Kidney and the Secret Beneath the City

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