Two dogs rescue their master’s accordion—and the world’s music—in Paris.
Victor and Hugo, a terrier and a basset hound, respectively, accompany their elderly, white master, Maestro, and his accordion on the banks of the River Seine. Appreciative viewers watch their performance, but a tossed salami causes Victor, Hugo, and the accordion to fall into the river. Both dogs (who start speaking once separated from their master) are illustrated with personality and emotion, and the oft-changing perspective keeps the pace moving. However, the core of the story—that Maestro’s accordion gets stuck in a tire that constantly evades capture and that said accordion suddenly houses the music of the world—feels arbitrary and even nonsensical. Victor and Hugo, along with many Parisians, chase the accordion, which somehow ends up in a sewer that Hugo and Victor access through a hidden door. Afraid they’re stuck in the sewer for good, Victor and Hugo sing a song that makes the whole of Paris sad…and leads Maestro to them. He liberates his accordion and leads the dogs back to the streets, where everyone celebrates the return of music to the world. While Blake’s lush oil paintings evoke the colors, vibrancy, diversity, and excitement of this little slice of Paris, his story is a disjointed jumble.
If readers are ready to forgive its confused plot, the art offers much to appreciate. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)