Translated from the original German into English and brought to the U.S. by a Spanish publisher, author/illustrator Steinitz’s picture book tells a story of a town populated by people who look just like their dogs—with two exceptions.
Leonora, a full-bodied, opera-loving lady in a dress with blue swirls, owns Fidelio, a skinny orange dog, and Carmelo, a skinny man with orange hair and suit, owns Pistachia, a rotund blue-swirled dog. Fidelio, like Leonora, loves the opera and “sings” to it, while Carmelo loves making chocolate bonbons, which Pistachia loves to eat (a note on the title page cautions readers that chocolate is not good for dogs). Alas, because Leonora and Carmelo don’t look like their dogs, the townspeople mock them. When they accidently meet, they think they’ve found the solution: trade dogs so they match. But all four are miserable until they come up with their own independent-minded solution. Steinitz’s illustrations are rendered in warmly saturated hues and printed on stone paper. Myriad visual cues (palm trees, Moorish architecture, shop signs) exude a distinctly Spanish town ambiance while other details (a portrait of Beethoven, composer of Fidelio, hangs on Leonora’s wall) enhance the story. All people shown are light-skinned with the exception of one dark-skinned child, who is portrayed with enlarged lips. Although the illustrations and story are accomplished, there are two unfortunate typos in which “where” is incorrectly used for “were.”
Filled with ambiance-saturated illustrations, this clever story delivers a lighthearted take on the “be yourself” theme. (Picture book. 4-10)