cover image Chocolate at the Four Seasons

Chocolate at the Four Seasons

Betty Paraskevas, , illus. by Michael Paraskevas, based on a true story by Bonnie Timmermann. . Little, Brown, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-01375-8

I n real life, Chocolate the Chihuahua was one lucky dog. When his “Papa” had to go away on business, Chocolate was entrusted to casting director/producer Timmermann, who was staying at the Four Seasons Hotel and clearly had enough sway with management to ensure that Chocolate was treated like a rock star. Unfortunately, anyone expecting to find in these pages a canine version of Eloise may end up a bit disappointed. Chocolate is given the run of the hotel and effortlessly wins the affections of the staff and guests; a grumpy hotel manager in an early spread proves to be a narrative red herring. The story, which lacks much dramatic tension, is shaped around the big-eared little fellow “finding his voice”— shy and barkless when he arrives at the hotel, Chocolate checks out having gained enough confidence and social élan to serenade guests while sitting on the hotel lounge piano. But that development proves a rather weak driver of narrative momentum, especially given Betty Paraskevas’s literal, earnest prose. Michael Paraskevas’s (Hoppy and Joe ) impressionistic, exuberantly brush-stroked compositions exude a California vibe. With a perky Chihuahua as his surrogate guide, he makes readers feel at home in a rarefied world of oversized sunglasses, toned bodies, haute cuisine and 24/7 luxury. Ages 3-6. (Apr.)