Diva is a small, white dog who lives in Paris with the gardienne (caretaker) of an apartment building. Diva is also a gardienne, standing guard at the gate, although rather wary of the people and their feet who pass by.
Flea is a big, black cat who lives somewhere different each day. He's a street-wise and confident flaneur (someone who wanders around exploring and experiencing new things).
After an awkward beginning, Diva and Flea become friends, and one day Flea invites Diva to join him on his adventures.
Diva is scared of what awaits around the corner, though greatly tempted, and succumbs to Flea's gentle persuasion. She eventually reaches the 'giant tower that can cut a cloud in half'. It's wondrous and beautiful, and surrounded by lots of people. Too many people for Diva.
The next day it's Diva's turn to introduce Flea to her world (and 'Breck-Fest' and 'Luh-Unch'). And for Flea to be the one taking tentative steps into the unknown.
In sharing stories and experiences, Diva and Flea increase their understanding of each other and the world. We the readers are encouraged to embrace differences, and get to see and hear Paris from the unusual perspective of an animal.
According to an author's note, the characters were inspired by a real-life dog and cat Mo Willems encountered when he arrived to live in Paris for a while.
The illustrations by Tony DiTerlizzi (The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Spider and the Fly), also an award-winner, are evocative and bring Diva, Flea and the city of Paris brilliantly to life.
If you've been to Paris yourself, then you'll recognise some of the sights and experiences of the famous city. If you've never been, then reading Diva and Flea: A Parisan Tale will make you feel like you have.
Title: Diva and Flea: A Parisian Tale
Author: Mo Willems
Illustrator: Tony DiTerlizzi
Publisher: Walker Books, $16.99
Publication Date: March 2017
For ages: 5-8 years
Type: Junior fiction