Pip – the Story of Olive, by Kim Kane

Olive Garnaut looked ever so slightly like an extraterrestrial: a very pale extraterrestrial. She had long thin hair, which hung and swung, and a long thin face to match it. Her eyes were pale green and so widely spaced that if she looked out of the corners of them, she could actually see her plaits banging against her bottom.
Olive’s eyelashes and eyebrows were so very fair that they blended right into her forehead and people could only spot them if the sun caught her at a strange angle. When she stood, her feet turned out at one hundred and sixty degrees (like a ballerina in first position), and her shins were the exact colour of chicken loaf.

Olive Garnaut is an unusual girl who lives with her mother, Mog, a hippy-turned-QC who is working on a judgeship. Olive and Mog live in a big house full of Mog’s bits and pieces. It has the potential to be a ‘magazine house’ but because Mog is so busy, it stays rather ramshackle. Olive has a best friend Mathilda, the only friend who comes to the house. Olive admires Mathilda’s much more ‘regular’ family. Year Seven can be a time of great challenges and so it is for Olive. It’s the year her friendship with Mathilda changes. It’s the year she becomes more curious about her absent father. And it’s the year she meets Pip, who brings the biggest change of all.

Kim Kane’s Pip: the story of Olive is a story both exquisite and agonising. As if approaching adolescence isn’t enough, Year Seven brings a whole new system of schooling, and an almost completely new peer group. There might be a few students familiar from primary school, but often the new environment means that familiarity fades very quickly. Main character Olive’s insights are age appropriate – alternately wise and naïve. Her mother is loving but absent. Her father is a mystery her mother would rather not recall. Olive’s calls for help are largely unheard, so Olive must help herself. Pip offers help but Olive has then to decide whether Pip’s advice is the advice she wants to take. Told in third person intimate, the reader sweeps along with Olive, feeling every joy, suffering every setback with her. Recommended for upper primary, early secondary readers.

Pip: the story of Olive, Kim Kane
Allen&Unwin 2008
ISBN: 9781741751192