Oliver at the Window

Making a friend makes all the difference. When Oliver's parents separate, Oliver must brave many new changes. He shuffles back and forth between his parents' homes. And now he goes to preschool every day. He doesn't know the kids there or his new teacher. Isolated and alone at first, Oliver slowly becomes part of the gang. Eventually, he's able to help the newest student feel welcome at school. Lion stays with Oliver everywhere he goes, giving him just the thing he needs to adjust to all the changes: courage. This picture book follows a young child’s adjustment to a new school—and his parent’s separation—through the natural evolution of friendship and play. Of special interest to parents with children entering school and to teachers, psychologists and therapists supporting families in transition.

Winner of a 2010 Honor Award from the Society of School Librarians International; available in English, Korean and Mandarin

ISBN: 978-1-59078-548-5 (hardcover)

AGES: 3-7

PUBLISHED BY: Front Street/Boyds Mills Press

ILLUSTRATED BY: Candice Hartsough McDonald



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Fun Stuff!

KIDS, do you ever feel scared when things change? Oliver sure does. In the story, can you see who helps him feel better?
And wait…what’s happening at Redbird School? There’s a lot of wild animals on the loose! Can you find them? (Hint…one of them likes to crawl around and peek out from behind napkins. Another one wears a Santa hat!)

GROWNUPS, I hope this story can be useful for families in transition. Here are a few additional resources.

Helping Children Cope with Divorce, by Edward Teyber.
Dinosaurs Divorce (A Guide for Changing Families), by Marc Brown and Laurie Krasny Brown.



"In this seemingly simple story, Shreeve tackles an emotionally complex topic with sensitivity. Oliver's parents have separated, and now he's starting a new school. Despite its enticing games and toys, he spends his days by the window. Stuffed lion in hand, nose pressed to the pane, he waits to see which parent will pick him up each day. As the seasons change, Oliver slowly begins to join his class in art, snacks and play until he almost forgets his former preoccupation. But when a new student enrolls in the winter and he sees her crying at the window, Oliver goes to her and shows her the window's hidden treasures, making her feel accepted and secure with one tender gesture. McDonald's unpretentious artwork serves the story beautifully with an earnest integrity. Loving texture is imparted on every surface by use of colored pencil, while she cleverly uses Oliver's lion as a device to show his emotional growth throughout the story. The deceptively childlike drawings also exhibit a playful quality, as reappearing critters peek out on each spread. An honest and heartfelt rendering of a serious topic."
—Kirkus Reviews

"Young Oliver has a full plate: his parents are divorcing, he now lives in two houses instead of one, and he recently began attending a new preschool. These major upheavals have taken a toll on his confidence. Oliver holds tight to his stuffed lion for courage as he watches life from the sidelines. Instead of playing with his classmates, he stands at the window watching and waiting for one of his parents to pick him up. 'Sometimes Oliver went to his dad's house, sometimes to his mom's. He was never quite sure.' Lion is always close by—glimpses of him can be found in each picture. Gradually, as the seasons change, Oliver begins to join activities and to interact with his teacher and the other children. When a new, and very forlorn, girl joins his class, Oliver offers friendship. In a moment of understated triumph, Lion is left on a stool in front of the window while, hand in hand, the boy accompanies the girl to snack time. Soft, pastel colored-pencil illustrations…create a cozy atmosphere with subtle humor. A gentle, charming book."
—School Library Journal

"Oliver’s life is topsy-turvy since “his parents moved into separate houses,” including attendance at a new preschool, where his only comfort is his stuffed lion. Oliver spends his days keeping to himself and staring out the classroom window, but he eventually begins to socialize with the rest of the class. When an unhappy new student arrives, it is Oliver who draws her into the activities. Softly shaded primitive-style illustrations with playful touches showing Oliver and his classmates engaged in boisterous activities are an ideal match for the simply told story about courage and getting on with life. Although this works fine as a story, it would also make an effective vehicle for starting a discussion to bring out feelings about changes in a child’s life or how to help children feel part of a group."

"Definitely a good resource for parents who are going through a divorce to read with their children. It will start a lot of great conversations and give children permission to talk about what they're feeling about the transition. I look forward to its publication!"
—Jeanine M. Pontes, Ph.D., Kaiser Permanente, Department of Psychiatry

"I loved the book -- it really touched my heart. I am sure that families who are going through a separation will enjoy it. It's the type of book that children will want to read again and again. And the illustrations are really lovely!"
—Melanie Johnson, Ph.D., Psychologist

"Oliver at the Window serves as an excellent read-aloud for young children when you’re teaching about different kinds of family structures (e.g., two-parent families, separated families, divorced families, blended families, extended families). Additionally, Oliver at the Window can be used to teach several crafting techniques…to students up through third grade."
—; Two Writing Teachers Blogsite