Cover image for Paolo, Emperor of Rome
Paolo, Emperor of Rome
Physical Description:
48 p. ;

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A daring dog takes a whirlwind tour of Rome in search of freedom in new picture book from beloved storyteller Mac Barnett and masterful illustrator Claire Keane

Paolo the dachshund is trapped. Though he lives in Rome, a city filled with history and adventure, he is confined to a hair salon. Paolo dreams of the sweet life--la dolce vita--in the Eternal City. And then, one day, he escapes! Paolo throws himself into the city, finding adventure at every turn. Join our hero as he discovers the wonders of Rome: the ruins, the food, the art, the opera, and--of course--the cats. Readers will cheer the daring of this bighearted dog, whose story shows that even the smallest among us can achieve great things.

Author Notes

Mac Barnett is a New York Times bestselling author of books for children. His picture book Extra Yarn won a 2013 Caldecott Honor and the 2012 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. He also writes the Brixton Brothers series of mystery novels. He co-wrote Battle Bunny with Jon Scieszka which was a New York Times bestseller. Barnettt's book, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, illustrated by Jon Klassen, made the New York Times bestseller list in October 2014. It also won an E.B. White Read-Aloud Award 2015 in the picture book category.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 1--Life as a house pet bores Paolo, who knows he's destined for greatness, so the diminutive dachshund escapes to make his mark on Rome. There, he finds the Colosseum, the opera, temples, statues--and danger. Perils that would send lesser dogs scurrying don't faze Paolo, who stares down a cranky tabby and takes command over a pack of snarling curs. After diving into the Trevi Fountain to rescue six nuns from drowning, he becomes a hero. In thanks, the pope installs him in a lavish apartment, but Paolo's wild spirit can't be tamed, and soon he's off on more adventures. Keane constructs an elegant cityscape, her playful, thick linework adding whimsy, while Barnett narrates with poetic flair and a hilariously epic flavor ("I am Paolo, that escaped from his prison and is like the wolf come to life"). VERDICT In a single day, Paolo wins over the dogs of Rome, its people, and the pope; he'll just as easily endear himself to readers.--Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Publisher's Weekly Review

Paolo the dachshund is trapped in a hair salon on Rome's Via Torino, unable to see for himself the wonders he suspects lie beyond its glass door. But one lucky day, the door is left open, and what he finds is even better than he had dreamed. The classic architectural lines of the ancient city provide scope for imagination: "How beautiful to build such a towering marvel," he murmurs to himself as he surveys the Colosseum, "and how cruel to fill it with barbarism." True to his own high ideals, Paolo stands his ground against a cat, leads a pack of dogs, saves six nuns from certain death, and is nearly canonized by the Pope ("the cardinal shook his head") before giving up his cosseted existence at the Vatican and striking out into the city again. Keane (Why?) draws with a brash, bold line, capturing the contours of Rome's domes and bridges, and the flourish of Paolo's long tongue with equal grace. Barnett (Just Because) writes with the panache of Cyrano ("Truly," pronounces Paolo, "I am living my life") in this bighearted tale that champions honor for honor's sake. Ages 4--8. (Mar.)

Kirkus Review

A canine escapee gets his own Roman holiday. Paolo, a dachshund, would rather explore the streets of Rome than lie around inside his hair-salon home. Every time he dares to make an escape out the door, his owner, Signora Pianostrada, blocks her "Lazy Paolo" with her foot. But one day, Signora Pianostrada starts putting curlers in a client's hair before remembering to close the door, and off Paolo goes. The pup's newfound freedom takes him all over Romefor, as he says, unlike the statues he sees, "I am made of muscles, and can go wherever I please." He stares down cats in a field full of ruins. He becomes leader of a pack of dogs. He even tries his hand at heroics. Above all else, he conquers the city, proving that he's more imperial than lazy. Barnett's theatrical narrator works in tandem with the hilariously pompous pooch to carry this rib-tickling romp with infectious bravado. Keane's illustrations feature thick black outlines and an earthy, Mediterranean color palette applied with the look of oil pastels. The beautifully textured architecture and action sequences harken back to classic picture-book artists like Ludwig Bemelmans, Dr. Seuss, and H.A. Rey. A pair of wordless spreads even gives the pup a wild rumpus. Though it's mostly an animal story, the human characters are racially diverse. Endpapers depict a small map of Rome with Italian labels. Molto bene! (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Although Paolo, a diminutive dachshund, has all of Rome at his fingertips--er, paw tips--he doesn't have the freedom to explore it. Confined by his owner to a small hair salon, Paolo dreams of touring the city, grabbing a sniff of the wonders outside every time a client wanders in or out. When the door is left ajar, Paolo seizes his opportunity and bolts for freedom. Scampering from site to site, the fortunate pup is challenged by territorial cats and street dogs, but he rises to each occasion, proving his fearlessness and heart. Readers will be endeared to Paolo instantly, with his lust for life and pluckiness in the face of adversity. Barnett's text is simple but imbued with a sense of dramatic beauty and humor. Keane's illustrations recall gorgeous pastel crayons swept across the page, capturing the elegance of Rome and the charm of the adorable pooch at the heart of the story. While no Gregory Peck, Paolo still makes for the perfect guide on this canine Roman holiday.