Oliver. Oliver the Elephant. I have been reading Oliver the Elephant every night for the past 28 days. It is Lydia’s favorite for reasons unknown, and she will not give it up.

Nearly a week ago we reached Clara’s Oliver saturation point. She refuses to even stay in the same room while I read it to her sister. She just groans as Lydia chants “Ol-iv-er! Ol-iv-er!” and she rolls out of bed and drags herself out the door. I tell her to stay in the room and she begs to leave. Lydia just beams when I pull the book out of the cubbyhole, and turn the first page.

Of course, as much as Clara groans, I can tell she just sits outside the door and listens from the hallway. I know this because there are key moments that are her favorite (the cab driver’s joke about a moving van, and the lion tamer part) where every night, at these points in the book, the door swings open and her little head pops in asking me to repeat those particular lines again. Then she laughs and closes the door, repeating them to herself. Lydia just holds her face tight up against my arm and smiles wide until she drools with joy.


Just yesterday however, we received the most amazing thing in the mail. Lydia’s monthly children’s book from the Dolly Parton Book Club (It’s complicated…). Finally, some solace from the greasy clutches of this strange dancing elephant.

That night when Lydia began pulling her pajamas on, she was already starting into her nightly “Ol-iv-er!” chant.

“Wait, wait. We have a new book tonight.” I told her.

“I want Oliver.”

“Okay, okay. Just give it a chance,” I picked it up. It was a fun book about a young boy and a tiger trying to read a book. “So. Do you want to read, Oliver or–”

“Oliver, yes, I want Oliver.”

“Stop, just wait. Oliver or, this new book about the boy and–”


“–And a tiger that–”


“–read a book together and–”


“–go on adventures–”


“–and I’ll give you forty dollars.”


I waited.

“Can I choose now?” she said.

I nodded with a sigh, “Yes. Which one do you want.”

“Um… I want Oliver.”

I tossed her new book off the edge of the bed, and picked up the elephant book.

Clara rolled off the edge, and marched towards the door. “I’ll be in the hallway.”