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 Rome—for, 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)