Parents' Guide to

The Story of Diva and Flea

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 6+

Beautiful art befits charming friendship story set in Paris.

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The art brims with French charm in this beautifully produced book that's a gentle cat-dog friendship story and a mini-trip to Paris. Nothing's too difficult for young readers in this early chapter book, though Willems cleverly and skillfully weaves in some French words, such as "gardienne" and "flâneur" that go down as easily as a cup of chocolat. There's also fun in the animals' point of view; Flea doesn't know the human names for things such as "Eiffel Tower" and "breakfast," and when he comes to the Metro stop, he discovers "giant rooms on wheels would suddenly appear and release large groups of people," and he thinks, "So that's where people come from." The reassuring message is lightly delivered: Whatever your fears, you can stretch and move beyond them.

A close look at DiTerlizzi's exquisite art yields some fun surprises. He grants cameo appearances to both author and illustrator. Can the reader spot them? And he slyly posts a picture of Willems' famous pigeon on a sign at the Metro stop. But the real pleasure is in his loving rendering of Paris. The quintessentially Parisian architecture, Art Nouveau entrance to the Metro Stop, and artfully arranged window at the charcuterie transport us. It's richly produced, printed on heavy paper that provides tactile pleasure and underscores the book's classic feel.

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