The Story of Diva and Flea written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi.
My rating: 5/5
I was preparing for a job interview where I was asked to perform three book talk for 2nd-4th graders. While I was looking for books, I stumbled upon The Story of Diva and Flea. I am a big fan of Mo Willems’ picture books, and I had no idea that he had written a chapter book!! Omg the librarian gods were weeping because lord knows if I had known I would have picked up this book ages ago!! Either way, we have been brought together, and are living our happily ever after.
This book tells the story of stray street-smart cat named Flea, and a small anxious dog named Diva. They strike up an unlikely friendship, and together they take on the streets of Paris. Yep…Paris. That city…with the lights and the big metal thing.. . You may have heard of it. The fact that it was set in Paris was definitely one of my favorite parts as an adult reader. I am not so sure that kids will appreciate it as much, but I do think they will love the illustrations of the city!
We can’t talk about this book without referencing the beautiful illustrations. Illustrations are used throughout the book, and they establish a clear aesthetic that correlates with the story (yes, I just used the word aesthetic to describe a book…what has the world come to).
A lot of moments in the book are really funny (with a nice splash of heartwarming) and I think kids will get a kick out of certain scenes. One of my favorites is in Chapter 5 where Diva and Flea are having a conversation that leaves both of them confused. Thanks to her anxiety, Diva is unsure of how to handle the awkward silence:
“Diva thought of yelling “FEET!” and running away, but there were no feet anywhere to be seen. So, Diva just stood there.”
Kids will also love the use of the french word flâneur (which means to stroll) , and how it’s often used as a verb.
“Do you see me? I’m flaneur-ing”. (I might just have to start using this one myself…).
Now the real question is….was there anything that I didn’t like about this book? Well…I just really really wish it was a series! I want more Diva and Flea adventures! But for now, as a stand alone this book is incredible. It’s a great introduction into chapter books for beginning readers, and children who love stories of friendship and especially animal friendships will love this book. It’s a simple story, and yet the way it is written and illustrated gives it that umph that will draw you in (and REALLY make you want to read more.. PLEASE…Mo, I’m talking to you!)