Advent Calendar

Olive, the Other Reindeer by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh

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For some it’s The Snowman, others love It’s a Wonderful Life. Somebody, somewhere chooses Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups. In my house, Olive, the Other Reindeer is the sweetest Christmas TV treat.

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It all started when the children were small and getting up at ridiculous o’clock on Christmas Morning. Having weighed through TV specials of Postman Pat and Balamory, patiently waiting for it to be acceptable to start drinking, I turned  to Channel 4 and discovered the next best thing – Olive.

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This cultish Christmas confection is based on a book by J. Otto Seibold, and has the same a fabulous premise, about a dog who mishears the lyrics to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

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Olive realises her entire life has been a lie, she is not a dog after all, but a reindeer. She immediately hops on a bus to the North Pole.

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She arrives arrives just in time to join all of the other reindeer on their annual delivery.

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She might not be able to fly, but being a dog Olive is a natural, using her other senses to help the herd. Her nose isn’t red, but it helps with the most important part of Christmas.

‘Olive, I’d hate to be late for breakfast this year,’ he said. ‘Mrs Claus has planned a parade of cookies. Mmmmm, you can almost smell them, can’t you?’

Olive could smell the cookies.’

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‘Olive, won’t you guide my sleigh this morning?’ asked Santa.’

So she achieves her ambition, sniffing their way out of the dreaded North Pole fog and becoming an honorary reindeer.

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J. Otto Seibold was born in 1960, a product of the Baby Boomer generation – and it shows. This is a book born of American children’s TV, and mid century graphic art. It’s Richard Scarry’s busy world supercharged with the frenetic energy of Chuck Jones.

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Some people might find the book is too American for their delicate Victorian sensibilities. They’re welcome to watch The Good Old Days or another Morecambe and Wise Christmas special. This is far more fun. Yes, even better than Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups.

Olive the Other Reindeer is published by Chronicle Books

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