Monday, June 29, 2020

Review - Paolo, Emperor of Rome

Paolo, Emperor of Rome
by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Claire Keane
Date: 2020
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 48
Format: e-book
Source: library

A daring dog takes a whirlwind tour of Rome in search of freedom.

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.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I'm really not a fan of children's books in which dogs run away and never return home. Sure, that might be a happy ending for a dog... but it could be a terrifying prospect for a kid who loves their furry companion.

The language in this book is also a bit mismatched with its audience. I don't think young children would understand a good deal of what's being said. At times, this almost reads like a book for adults:

The cat hissed and swiped her claws. Pain spread across Paolo's face. He had been cut, and deeply. But rather than flee, Paolo stood and barked. The cat, frightened by Paolo's indifference to injury, disappeared into the grass.

Paolo hopped from column to column till he stood upon the tallest. "I am Paolo," he said. "The biggest among you has scratched my cheek, and I did not flinch. Will any other cat challenge me?"

The cats were cowed.

(I can already imagine parents having to explain to their kids that, no, the cats were not turned into cows.)

The illustrations didn't impress me much. Rome looks scribbly.

I haven't had a lot of luck with Mac Barnett's books. I know his stuff is popular... but I'm just not seeing why.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.33 out of 5

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