cover image Paolo, Emperor of Rome

Paolo, Emperor of Rome

Mac Barnett, illus. by Claire Keane. Abrams, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4197-4109-8

Paolo the dachshund is trapped in a hair salon on Rome’s Via Torino, unable to see for himself the wonders he suspects lie beyond its glass door. But one lucky day, the door is left open, and what he finds is even better than he had dreamed. The classic architectural lines of the ancient city provide scope for imagination: “How beautiful to build such a towering marvel,” he murmurs to himself as he surveys the Colosseum, “and how cruel to fill it with barbarism.” True to his own high ideals, Paolo stands his ground against a cat, leads a pack of dogs, saves six nuns from certain death, and is nearly canonized by the Pope (“the cardinal shook his head”) before giving up his cosseted existence at the Vatican and striking out into the city again. Keane (Why?) draws with a brash, bold line, capturing the contours of Rome’s domes and bridges, and the flourish of Paolo’s long tongue with equal grace. Barnett (Just Because) writes with the panache of Cyrano (“Truly,” pronounces Paolo, “I am living my life”) in this bighearted tale that champions honor for honor’s sake. Ages 4–8. [em](Mar.) [/em]