“A spirited wiener dog whose remarkable, richly-illustrated adventures read a bit rushed.”
Paolo’s small size doesn’t keep him from being a dog with big dreams. So when he sees an opportunity to break free of Signora Pianostrada’s salon, he escapes into the “eternal city,” Rome, and begins to bask in its glory. He takes in an opera and visits the Colosseum, where he marvels at its beauty while mourning its use as a stage for “barbarism.” He bravely defies a tabby cat and becomes the unanimously selected leader of a pack of dogs, with whom he enjoys a glorious night roaming the city. As the pack breakfasts the next morning, he sees six nuns who have fallen into Trevi Fountain, and he heroically jumps in to save them. While he is rewarded with an audience with the pope and an apartment “papered in gold and hung with Caravaggios,” he turns down the confinements in favor of a “boundless” life. The story includes clever references to Rome—like when the dogs are howling at the moon from inside the Pantheon—and a humorous, ironic premise—a boundless, noble spirit inside a small dachshund (aka “wiener dog”), but it also feels shallow and hurried, creating a sense of randomness. Apparently, Paolo’s limitless life is difficult to meaningfully, substantively cover in a short picture book. Keane’s rich digital illustrations succeed in depicting Rome wistfully and playfully while still including realistic, recognizable details.
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.
Paolo lives in the city of Rome, Italy, and the story includes illustrations of famous landmarks in Rome, like the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain. Use a map and encyclopedia articles to help your young reader understand where Rome is and learn more about it.
Paolo has a very noble spirit, and he doesn’t want to feel caged in, whether it’s in Signora Pianostrada’s salon or in a papal palace. Have you ever felt trapped? How do you feel when you can go and explore new things?
Claire Keane studied graphic design in Paris before moving to Los Angeles, where she worked at Walt Disney Feature Animation for 10 years and contributed to Frozen, Tangled, Enchanted, and many other films. She now lives in Venice Beach, California, where she writes and illustrates children’s books.
For Nick Villalon
For my brother, Max
“A canine escapee gets his own Roman holiday. . . . The beautifully textured architecture and action sequences harken back to classic picture-book artists . . . “
“True to his own high ideals, Paolo stands his ground against a cat, . . . saves six nuns from certain death, and is nearly canonized by the Pope . . . “