The Definitive Guide to

Paolo, Emperor of Rome

Written by Mac Barnett & illustrated by Claire Keane
4.5 / 7.0
- Bookroo Rating
Goodreads Rating - 4.1 / 5.0
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Prices as of Oct 20
Retail Price
used $11.89
Mar 31, 2020
Publication Date
Target Age

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

Video Gallery

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

Mom of Boys
Mom of three little boys who love books about dragons, whangdoodles and magic.
4.5 / 7.0
The Goodfather
Favorite pastime? Reading with my kids. Just finished Nana Cracks the Case!
4.5 / 7.0

Book Lists That Include Paolo, Emperor of Rome

Book Topics › action and adventure
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Book Topics › famous places
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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.

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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.

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What Has Mac Barnett Said About This Book

Nothing yet! 🤷 You should let Mac know that you want more details about Paolo, Emperor of Rome!

What Has Claire Keane Said About This Book

Nothing yet! 🤷 You should let Claire know that you want more details 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

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

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  • “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 . . . “

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Book Details

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

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