NEW YORK — Olivia, the little girl pig with the big imagination, is stepping out of her picture book world into a bold, new and much more colorful life on Nickelodeon.

NEW YORK — Olivia, the little girl pig with the big imagination, is stepping out of her picture book world into a bold, new and much more colorful life on Nickelodeon.

The twirly drama queen and fashionista seems more mature at the ripe old age of 6¾ in the eye-popping animated series that preserves her can-do spirit and love of red stripes while broadening her social life.

Gone is a bit of Olivia's squirm in Ian Falconer's award-winning, mega-selling books. The large-headed piglet still wants what she wants — and wants it yesterday — but there's a touch more patience as she navigates the day-to-day with friends and family.

The babyish voice of Olivia — with just a hint of whine — is pitch-perfect thanks to 12-year-old Emily Gray, a sixth-grade newcomer from San Diego, Calif. Emily vaguely remembers reading the books in her preschool days but said she grew fond of the popular porcine after voicing 26 half-hour episodes for the weekday show that premiered Monday.

"I like how outgoing she is and how she tries new things and doesn't worry about what everyone else thinks about her and just wants to be happy with herself," Emily said.

Falconer, 49, wrote and drew the books with an illustrator's eye that he has also lent to 30 covers of The New Yorker magazine. He has designed costumes and sets for the New York City Ballet, San Francisco Opera and the Royal Opera House in London, but Olivia made him a star.

His first Olivia book was an instant hit in 2000, selling 1 million copies its first year and earning a Randolph Caldecott honor in 2001 for best illustrated children's book. Five books followed, generating 6 million more in worldwide sales, accompanied by spinoffs and lots of merchandise. The books are now published in 40 countries and translated into 20 languages.

In 2006, Olivia even got her own U.S. postage stamp in a series honoring favorite children's book animals.

Olivia is a girly-girl in Falconer's books. On TV, she acquires some boys as friends and classmates, including the sweatsuit-wearing Julian, a pig with a darker skin tone.

"Diversity in general is really important to us," Johnson said. "Pigs do come in lots of colors."