cover image Maurice


Jessixa Bagley. Chronicle, $17.99 (52p) ISBN 978-1-7972-1173-2

The eponymous protagonist of this soulful picture book from Bagley (Courage Hats) is an orange canine accordionist who once played big concert halls. “But times and things changed. They always do,” and now he busks on the streets of an entirely dog-populated Paris. C’est la vie: as elegant watercolor and digitally collaged vignettes make clear, Maurice “still had songs to play.” Against the city’s backgrounds, he serenades passersby (“each note soaring to the sky”), displays kindness and congeniality, and takes inspiration from the bevy of birds who share his humble apartment. But times keep changing; Maurice starts feeling “shushed by the city’s chaotic rhythms,” and begins to see far fewer coins in his cup. Low on birdseed funds and determined to keep his beloved birds from starving, he throws open his window and, in a breathtaking double gatefold image, releases them into the wild, resigning himself to a heart that feels “like an empty birdcage.” Bagley has confidence that her readers can handle a little melancholy, and so the quietly happy ending arrives at a measured pace, slowly assuring Maurice, and readers, that love and the pursuit of beauty endure across time and seasons. Ages 5–8. Agent: Alexandra Penfold, Upstart Crow Literary. (May)