What a magnificent combination of author and illustrator! Mo Willems has moved into the world of chapter book writing with the expertise he brings to every one of his other books. Tony DiTerlizzi's illustrations are the just right accompaniment!
The first time I read it, I sped through it. The second go round I took time to savour each illustration and linger over words, phrases, paragraphs and whole pages.
Diva is a wee dog who has never been outside his garden. Flea, a cat, is a flâneur who has explored the world of Paris. When the two of them become friends, they help each other to expand their horizons.
There is so much to adore about this book.
There is the gentle humour:
"Diva took her job seriously. Every day, she would exit the grand front door, trot across the small courtyard, and stand at the building's front gate. From there she watched and guarded, and guarded and watched.
And if anything ever happened, no matter how big or small, Diva would yelp and run away.
Diva was very good at her job."
There are tender messages with moments of awareness, like this one:
"As soon as Flea saw the small dog, he was captivated. As soon as Diva saw the large cat, she yelped and ran away."
Flea found this so funny that he flâneured past the courtyard every day.
"Then one day Diva didn't yelp or run away. Instead, she looked right at Flea's big face and asked, "Are you trying to hurt my feelings?"
Flea had never thought about it like that."
It is filled with inspiration and hope:
"Come on! said Flea as he turned and dashed into the sidewalk.
Diva did not move.
Flea looked at her from the middle of the sidewalk and smiled a nice smile. "Take a little step and see how it feels," he said.
Even a little step felt like a big step to Diva. The sidewalk was large and different and not courtyard-y. But if Flea was there (and he was), then it couldn't be all that bad."
It was a delightful surprise to get to the end of the book and realize that DiTerlizzi had put both himself and Willems in the illustrations. You will have to go and purchase your own copy and discover them for yourself. While you are at it, you might as well purchase a few extra copies because I promise, you will want to give them away as gifts.
I really really hope there is a sequel or two in the offing.