Fighting cats amid the ruins, visiting the opera, rescuing nuns from the Trevi Fountain, earning an audience with the Pope — Paolo does it all in Mac Barnett’s romping, cheery picture book. Illustrated in a bold, loose style by Claire Keane, this is an unabashed love letter to the Italian capital and way of life.
Mac Barnett, an established American writer who studied under David Foster Wallace, is best known here for his Terrible Two series and picture book collaborations with Jon Klassen, such as Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. The illustrator Claire Keane, whose gorgeous style is reminiscent of the author-illustrator of the Madeline books, Ludwig Bemelmans, is an artist for major animations such as Frozen, Tangled and Enchanted. They make a delightful, witty pairing.
And the ending brought a lump to my throat. “And Paolo’s proud spirit was boundless. He could not be contained.”