The Definitive Guide to

Paolo, Emperor of Rome

Written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Claire Keane
- Bookroo Rating
Goodreads Rating - 4.0 / 5.0
List Price
Target Age
Book Type

What Does Bookroo Think of This Book

“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.

What's This Book About

Publisher Summary

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.

What Kind of Book is Paolo, Emperor of Rome

Quotes from This Book

  • "And was the city all he imagined? It was more."
  • "For walls are walls, even when papered in gold and hung with Caravaggios."

What Questions Should I Ask My Child

  • 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?

Trusted Reviews & Ratings

The Goodfather
Husband. Father. Children's Book Critic Extraordinaire:)
Mom of Boys
Three little boys who love books about dragons, whangdoodles and magic.

Book Lists That Include Paolo, Emperor of Rome

Book Topics › adventure
Awesome Children's Books About Adventure
Book Topics › freedom
Children's Books About Freedom
Book Topics › heroes
Children's Books About Heroes
Book Topics › famous places
Children's Books About Famous Places
Kids Book Club
Monthly. Curated. Delivered.
Get Started
As low as $16.95 / mo

Who Wrote Paolo, Emperor of Rome

Mac Barnett

Mac Barnett is the coauthor of the Terrible Two series and the author of many picture books, which have won multiple Caldecott Honors.

View Author

Who Illustrated Paolo, Emperor of Rome

Claire Keane

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.

View Illustrator

What Has Mac Barnett Said About This Book

Nothing yet! 🤷 You should let Mac Barnett know that we want more details from them about Paolo, Emperor of Rome!

What Has Claire Keane Said About This Book

Nothing yet! 🤷 You should let Claire Keane know that we want more details from them about Paolo, Emperor of Rome!

Mac Barnett's Book Dedication

For Nick Villalon

Claire Keane's Book Dedication

For my brother, Max

What Do Critics Say About This Book

  • Kirkus Reviews

    “A canine escapee gets his own Roman holiday. . . . The beautifully textured architecture and action sequences harken back to classic picture-book artists . . . “

    Read full review >>
  • Publishers Weekly

    “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 . . . “

    Read full review >>

More Books From These Creatives

Circle book
shapes · friendship · problem solving
Square book
perspective · artists · shapes · building things
Triangle book
friendship · shapes · opposites
Extra Yarn book
kindness · magic
Extra Yarn
Just Because book
parenting · curiousity
Just Because
Little Big Girl book
new babies · siblings
Little Big Girl
Leo: A Ghost Story book
picture book
Leo: A Ghost Story
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole book
explorers · hard work · friendship · teamwork
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
Telephone book
Why? book
superpowers · curiousity
picture book
Jack at the Zoo
Places to Be book
feelings and emotions
Places to Be

Books You Might Enjoy If You Liked This Book

Madeline book
Paris · bravery · doctors · illness · female role models · adventure
Wherever You Go book
being yourself · travel · seasons · adventure · leaving home
Wherever You Go
Baby's First Bank Heist book
the zoo · silly · adventure · money · pets
Baby's First Bank Heist
Sunk! book
pirates · friendship · penguins · adventure
Off & Away book
courage · explorers · adventure · problem solving
Off & Away
Sheep Dog and Sheep Sheep book
dogs · sheep
Sheep Dog and Sheep Sheep
Harold and the Purple Crayon book
imagination · innovation · art · adventure · crayons
Harold and the Purple Crayon
Wolf Won't Bite book
fractured fairy tales · adventure · wolves · pigs
Wolf Won't Bite

Book Details

ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:
Publication Date:
March 31, 2020
Illustration Details:
The illustrations in this book were made using Photoshop and Procreate.