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The Story of Diva and Flea

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Diva, a small yet brave dog, and Flea, a curious streetwise cat, develop an unexpected friendship in this unforgettable tale of discovery.

For as long as she could remember, Diva lived at 11 avenue Le Play in Paris, France. For as long as he could remember, Flea also lived in Paris, France-but at no fixed address. When Flea flâneurs passed Diva's courtyard one day, their lives were forever changed. Together, Diva and Flea explore and share their very different worlds, as only true friends can do.

80 pages, Hardcover

First published October 13, 2015

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About the author

Mo Willems

194 books3,731 followers
#1 New York Times Bestselling author and illustrator Mo Willems is best known for his Caldecott Honor winning picture books Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Knuffle Bunny: a cautionary tale.

In addition to such picture books as Leonardo the Terrible Monster, Edwina the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct, and Time to Pee, Mo has created the Elephant and Piggie books, a series of early readers, and published You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons, an annotated cartoon journal sketched during a year-long voyage around the world in 1990-91.

The New York Times Book Review called Mo “the biggest new talent to emerge thus far in the 00's."

Mo’s work books have been translated into a myriad of languages, spawned animated shorts and theatrical musical productions, and his illustrations, wire sculpture, and carved ceramics have been exhibited in galleries and museums across the nation.

Mo began his career as a writer and animator for television, garnering 6 Emmy awards for his writing on Sesame Street, creating Nickelodeon's The Off-Beats, Cartoon Network’s Sheep in the Big City and head-writing Codename: Kids Next Door.

He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his family.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 739 reviews
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,049 reviews1,802 followers
April 18, 2017
"You showed me a wondrous and delicious new thing yesterday. I owe you a favor."

Diva was flattered. Also, she loved favors.

This is a story by Mo Willems, the author of the Pigeon books and the Elephant & Piggie series. This will automatically interest children. Children already recognize Mo Willems' name, as do parents / teachers.

This is a little different from his previous books, aimed at older children (5 and 6ish) rather than toddlers. The book is divided into chapters and we all know how thrilled out of their minds children get when they start reading their first chapter books like "grown-ups." :D

As for the story. Diva is a tiny white terrier who lives in an apartment building. She patrols her little domain but is terrified of both feet and leaving the courtyard. Actually, she is terrified of a lot of things.

Flea is a black cat who wanders around Paris. I would call him 'homeless' or 'a stray,' but in this book he is described as a flâneur, someone who leads a desirable life:

A great flâneur has seen everything, but still looks for more, because there is always more to discover.

Flea is nameless.

Flea did not even have a fixed name. Some people called him "Puss" or "Midnight" or "Richard," but he didn't care too much about what people called him. He liked the name "Flea." He thought it was funny because he was a large cat, and a flea is a small animal.

Also, he may or may not have had fleas.

When he sees Diva, she yelps and runs away. Like she does with everything. This amuses Flea, and he makes a point to pass by her house every day just to see her reaction. When one morning she gets up the courage to call him out on it, accusing him of being "mean," he apologizes by bringing her a dead mouse.

I didn't really know where exactly Willems was taking this.

They strike up a tentative friendship. He tells her lots of stories of his adventures and learns that she is very skittish.

He coaxes her out of her comfort zone and even convinces her to see the Eiffel tower, which is right around the corner.

Even though it is 'right around the corner' for Flea, for Diva it is a huge and scary adventure.

But later it is revealed that Flea has fears, as well.

SO. This isn't funny, like Willems previous books. But it's good, and cute. Children might like it, depending on their tastes.

It really reminds me of Lady and the Tramp, although it's not a love story like that one is. But a sheltered, innocent, sweet female and a rough, street-living, goodhearted male become friends and gently help each other get what they need in life, much like Lady and the Tramp. Of course, it's predictable and couldn't play more to stereotypes. Both Lady and the Tramp and this book play on romantic / sexual tropes: worldly experienced man is interested in "friendship" with a gentle, sweet, sheltered innocent woman - and helps her discover the joy and fun of, um... allowing him to "show her more of the world." At the same time, she gives him the safety, security, and love present in her sphere. Children aren't going to pick up on this, that they're being indoctrinated already into sexual and romantic roles, but the astute adult reader certainly will.

The location, Paris, might interest some children, and the illustrations are rather charming. If you don't know French, you might have to look up the pronunciation of one or two words - no point in butchering the French.

Tl;dr - A sweet book about an unlikely friendship. Mo Willems will be a draw for both children and adults.

P.S. Also, it really squicks me out that the gardienne allows a cat she KNOWS has fleas all over her furniture. And never treats him for them. If you're going to allow a street cat in the house, fine. But please treat him for parasites if you do so. It's gross and cruel to the animal.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,372 reviews9,450 followers
May 7, 2016

This was such a cute little book. The cover is what got me when I was perusing the library online catalog so I read it :)

Diva is a sweet little dog that lives in a loving home and Flea is a cat that doesn't have a home. He just wanders the streets of France.

Flea meets Diva one day when he walks by Diva's courtyard, but Diva isn't too sure at first and barks at Flea.


But after a bit Diva and Flea start talking. Flea tells wonderful stories and takes Diva out on the town :)



Diva invites Flea to come in and see her home where she lives with her Human, Eva.


Eventually, Flea comes to live with Diva and Eva and they all live happily ever after :)


I think this is a cute little book for kids and for me :)

Profile Image for Chasity.
243 reviews13 followers
April 7, 2021
I was so glad to find this book at the library. I had no idea that Mo Willems had written books for a little bit older audience. Diva and Flea were cute characters that grew together in friendship. If you or your kids like to read Kate Dicamillo’s books like Mercy Watson, you will definitely like this.
Profile Image for Whispering Stories.
2,573 reviews2,551 followers
February 1, 2017
Diva, the dog, lives in a luxury apartment, in a large house in Paris, France. She lives with Eva, her owner, who is the gardienne of the apartment building, meaning that she looks after it, inside and out.

Flea, the cat, doesn’t have a fixed abode. He lives on the streets, doesn’t have an owner and is a flaneur, someone (or somecat), who wanders the streets, bridges and alleys of the city to see what there is to see.

One day Flea walks past the courtyard of the apartment building where Diva lives. Diva comes rushing over to the fence, and barks at Flea. Flea finds this funny, so he goes back day after day just to laugh at Diva’s barking. Diva finds this upsetting, as he doesn’t like Flea laughing at him.

Flea realises this and decides to apologise. The two soon become firm friends. Flea tells Diva all about what he has seen on his travels, and invites Diva to join him. Diva has never been outside the courtyard before, and is apprehensive, but decides to go. In return Diva shows Flea what it’s like to have a home, and food made especially for you, and not to be afraid of the ‘broom’ that Flea is scared of, as everywhere he goes, people shoo him with one.

Diva and Flea, is a beautiful story of friendship, and how it can be found in the most unusual circumstances, with people, (or animals), that you would never dream of being friends with.

The book is a simple, yet riveting story. It is superbly told, and grabs your interest from the very first page. The characters are both very likeable, and the plot, most certainly enjoyable. I also liked that the book was broken down into short chapters.

The illustrations are divine. Tony Diterlizzi, the illustrator, has really captured the essence of the book. The pictures adorn every page, with some pages being completely illustrated.

This is a sweet book, that will have children smiling, and enjoying every minute of it. I would say it would be perfect for children aged between 7 and 10.

Reviewed by Stacey on www.whisperingstories.com
Profile Image for Shelby.
258 reviews
December 11, 2016
This is really cute and very adorable. I had many friends talk about this book and it was a book that I really liked. I loved the relationship between Diva and Flea. They are super cute together. I would recommend this to anyone.
Profile Image for Angela.
1,170 reviews22 followers
August 24, 2015
Review based on unfinished edition. Illustrations were not final in most of the book.

And yet, it was awesome! Reminiscent of "The Aristocats", this gem of a chapter book tells and shows the benefits and beauties of both home life and freedom to explore. The balance of which brings a nice place to rest your furry head after an adventure.

Recommended for those who love AVI's "The End of the Beginning", as well as any and all fans of this dynamic duo.

With only a handful of finished illustrations in the ARC, I can't wait to see the finished book. I expect it to be lovely and one of the best gift books this fall and through the holidays.

Most highly recommended. Sure to garner accolades.
Profile Image for Cheryl .
8,925 reviews391 followers
January 5, 2019
Delightful fable for all ages. I have never been interested in Paris, but now I can see the appeal. I love the yin/yang friendship, the illustrations of the long-legged cat, and everything else, and the author's and artist's notes that make this real.
Profile Image for Amy.
893 reviews219 followers
December 2, 2017
Did you know Mo Willems wrote a chapter book? Did you know it was about a cat named Flea, a flaneur on the streets of Paris, and a little dog named Diva who lived at 11 avenue Le Play, with the gardienne, who needed to learn how to be a bit more adventurous? Diva and Flea is a delightful tale about an unlikely pair of friends, from the best children's author these days. If you read this with your child, (a very sweet 7 year old curly haired monster and I read it together), don't forget to practice reading the French word Flaneur with a French finish! Its half the fun.) Thus concludes our journey through every single book Mo Willems has written thus far. From Elephant and Piggie, the beloved Pidgeon and Duckling, to Knuffle Bunny One, Two, and Three. To every fun picture book, and finally the Paris adventure - the story of Diva and Flea, a full fledged chapter book. I found it delightful.

Just in case anyone is curious, we are working our way through four series. We are on Book 15 of the Magic Tree House Series, (Viking Ships at Sunrise) Book 10 of the A to J mysteries (The Jaguar's Jewel), maybe book 12 of Horrible Harry in Room 2b, and Book Six of Ballpark Mysteries. (The Wrigley Riddle.) At the end of a rotation of each four, we read something a little different. Roald Dahl, A Dan Gutman, Mr. Popper's Penguins, and this week, the Story of Diva and Flea. Thank you, Mo Willems, for helping me raise my kids and growing along with us. This Paris story was the perfect finish to my last child's move forward in reading. I am grateful to have shared the journey with you.
Profile Image for Skip.
3,226 reviews394 followers
July 7, 2018
Probably a 3.5, but rounded up because of Tony DiTerlizzi's wonderful and colorful illustrations, which appear about every other page. If you love Paris and/or the Aristocats, this book is for you. Like the famous O'Malley, Flea is an alley cat and a flaneur (explorer.) Diva is a small white dog, who guards the courtyard in front of the apartment building, where her owner is the caretaker. The interaction between the two is heartwarming and they help each other be brave: one to explore and the other to trust people.
Profile Image for Intisar Khanani.
Author 17 books2,161 followers
August 5, 2018
Loved reading this. And yes, I stole it from my kids library stack because they'd already read it, and read it for myself. A sweet story with depth and beauty, a reflection on courage and fear and friendship. Also, it's a Mo Willems book. Now I just wish he would write more for this age group!

Note, the character types are a bit stereotypical / gender normative. Then again, the note from the author makes it clear that the characters were actual animals he met when in Paris, so perhaps that wasn't intentional so much as trying to stay true to the inspiration he met.
Profile Image for Vikki VanSickle.
Author 11 books198 followers
November 23, 2015
The Story of Diva and Flea reads like a dream and feels like a classic.

I love Mo Willems. His characters are exuberant and his sense of humour ranges from slapstick to dead-pan. If the Elephant and Piggie series doesn’t make kids want to read I’m not sure anything will. The latest installment in the Elephant and Piggie early reader series, I Really Like Slop, might be my favourite children’s book title of all time. Willem’s humour is ever-present in this very different story of a stray cat and a pampered dog who become friends, but this is a surprisingly tender and poignant Willems.

Whether they realize it or not, both Diva and Flea are lonely. Diva, a dog who is described as “smaller than a person’s foot” is afraid of feet and therefore never ventures outside her Parisienne courtyard. Flea, a self-described “Flaneur,” fears going indoors, as he has traumatic memories of a broom incident. They eventually become friends and Flea teaches Diva to be a brave like him and Diva teaches Flea that indoors can be nice, especially if there is Breck-fest of Luh-nch.

There is an Oliver & Company* feeling to the story, with a streetwise cat and a pampered dog, but Willems gives these stock characters both depth and warmth. Flea is gentle with Diva and tries not to hurt her feelings. Diva is patient with Flea and generous with her food and person, Eva. Their friendship almost feels like a love story, and Tony DiTerlizzi’s spot illustrations give a sense of a classic French movie, with scenes of manicured gardens, gargoyles, the Eiffel tower and cafe-lined streets.

The consistent use of flaneur as a verb (“Do you see me? I’m flaneur-ing”) will make children giggle, as will the animals’ observations of life. For example, upon seeing people exiting out of metro trains, Flea muses “So that’s where people come from.” Much of the humour comes from the nature of the animals and how they misunderstand each other. In one of my favourite scenes, Diva discovers a dead mouse on her doorstep, a present left by Flea as an apology. By way of thank you, Diva says “That is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. But, in the future, bring me a small piece of ribbon please.”

In one of the final scenes, Flea teaches Diva how to “meet new Feet.” This sweet scene reminded me of the classic book Catwings, in which the winged kittens are told to seek out “Gentle Hands.” Flea instructs Diva to sit at the feet and say meow (she says woof instead) and wait for the “wondrous thing.” That thing is a pat on the head, which Diva describes as “wondrous indeed.”
Profile Image for Clare Lund.
603 reviews7 followers
September 1, 2018
Tonight I finished listening to my husband read this book out loud to our kids (with his perfect French accent!) This is an adorable story about friends who challenge each other to step outside their comfort zones. I found out in the author’s note that this book is based on the actual apartment in Paris where Mo Willems lived, and the dog who lived there who explored the neighborhood with her best friend, a stray cat. Diva and Flea is appropriate for all ages, and is perfect for a young or developing reader - or anyone who wants a quick read with beautiful illustrations!
Profile Image for Rachel's Book Reviews.
686 reviews82 followers
December 12, 2015
BEYOND ADORABLE. I don't think I'll have an official review of this.....well, I guess I'll post a tiny something about it.....

Just to gush about THE ADORABLE STORY and the PERFECT illustrations. I LOVE Toni's work. I really do.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,083 reviews174 followers
March 30, 2020
A pampered pooch named Diva and a roving street-cat named Flea become friends in this debut early chapter-book from author Mo Willems, celebrated creator of the Pigeon picture-books and the Elephant and Piggie early readers. Rather timid by nature, Diva had never wandered far from the courtyard of the building in which she lived, preferring to observe the outside world from the safety of home. Flea, by contrast, was an itinerant wanderer, a flâneur who roved the streets of Paris, always looking for new sights, new adventures. When Flea flâneurs past Diva's building one day, the little dog is terrified, instinctively running away. Eventually however, as the street-cat returns each day, always amused by her fright, the little dog works up the courage to confront this feline interloper, thereby initiating a beautiful friendship that leads her into many adventures, and Flea to a home of his own...

The Story of Diva and Flea is a charming book, one both entertaining and poignant. At just sixty-five pages, it's a very brief read for an adult, but it manages to engage for all that, and would be ideally suited to children just getting into chapter-books for the first time. Willems captures Diva's transformation from an overly-timid creature afraid of FEET!, to an eager participant in adventuring on the streets of Paris, as well as Flea's jovial and kind-hearted role in that transformation. Flea's 'reward' at the end - - whilst not unexpected, was quite satisfying all the same. The artwork, done by Tony DiTerlizzi, is every bit as charming as the text, capturing the canine and feline appeal of its two protagonists, and the beauty of their Paris environs. I had to chuckle at the illustration of the Metroplitain stop, as DiTerlizzi has cleverly worked in a reference to Willems' Pigeon books, and found the two-page spread in which dog and cat gaze at the magnificent Eiffel Tower very appealing. All in all, a lovely little book, one I would recommend to younger children looking for beginning chapter-cooks featuring animal characters, or a Paris setting.
Profile Image for Mary Ann.
1,478 reviews279 followers
October 6, 2015
Diva has lived at the same building in Paris for as long as she can remember, loyally guarding the front courtyard. "She took her job very seriously," making sure that everything is safe. But she is a very small dog, and just a little nervous.

When alley-cat Flea wanders past Diva's building, flaneur-ing as he does through the streets of Paris, Flea is fascinated by the little dog. Unfortunately, Flea also finds it very funny when Diva yelps and runs away. This happens day after day, until Diva has had enough:
"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."

Right from the beginning, readers know that Diva and Flea are completely different: one lives in the world of humans, the other explores the streets of Paris on his own. But it's this moment--when Flea realizes that he's hurt Diva's feelings--that the story crystalizes and captures readers' interest. Flea apologizes, and their friendship develops from there as the two learn from each other.

With Flea's encouragement, Diva ventures out beyond the gates of her courtyard. It is scary for nervous little Diva, but she learns to trust Flea and be brave. I'd love to talk with kids about what helps Diva take these steps. How do friends support one another? How have they encouraged a friend?
Profile Image for Katie Ruth .
591 reviews114 followers
March 2, 2016
Cat/dog friendship in Paris--Yes, please! I adored it. Wonderful collaboration, Mo and Tony!
Profile Image for Jade Giovannini.
9 reviews20 followers
May 2, 2018
“You have made my day a little better, and I hope I have made your day a little better, too” ♥️
Profile Image for Stacie (MagicOfBooks).
604 reviews77 followers
September 21, 2018
I will also do a video review here at my channel: http://www.youtube.com/magicofbooks

"The Story of Diva and Flea" by Mo Willems takes place in Paris, France and follows a cat named Flea and a dog named Diva who come from very different worlds. Flea is a street cat who lives his life day by day exploring and discovering something new. Diva is a small pampered dog who is prone to being scared by the tiniest of things and has never explored beyond the gates of where she lives. One day, Diva and Flea meet each other and the two become the most unlikely of friends as they each teach the other how to try new things and venture beyond what they are familiar with.

Well, this was sweet and cute. It's hard to rate these kids books because I'm obviously not the target audience. My mom just had this laying around and I thought I'd check it out for the heck of it. The cute cover and even cuter pictures inside are what got me curious. This is a simple story about a cat and dog who are total opposites but quickly become friends as they explore new things together. Diva learns to be brave and venture beyond the gates of her home. Flea learns to venture into a home and get love and comfort that he's never had before. Like all good kids literature, this is definitely a story meant to teach and inspire by using cute animals. It's a story about bravery and learning to take risks even when those risks are scary. And it's a story about finding friendship in the most unlikely of places, learning not to judge someone who is different from you. The illustrations done by Tony DiTerlizzi are sweet, cute, and vibrant in the simplest of ways. And Mo Willems writing is just the same. There's really not more to say. If you have a kid, this should definitely be something you pick up. And hey, you can teach your kid a bit of French as well because Mo Willems throws in some fancy French every now and then. Overall, just a simple, sweet and cute story that kept a smile on my face the whole time.
Profile Image for Mark Baker.
2,016 reviews141 followers
February 7, 2016
Flea is a street cat in Paris who lives by his wits all alone. Diva is a dog in a small apartment building who is afraid of everything. When their paths cross one day, they build a friendship. How might that change their lives?

This early chapter book is longer than normal for author Mo Willems, but it still holds all of his charm and bits of humor. The story is utterly charming for all ages, and the lessons about the power of friendship are great.

Read my full review at Carstairs Considers.
3,714 reviews18 followers
November 21, 2015
This is a magical pairing of author and illustrator! Paris is a city which inspires the flaneur in most of us and this charming book captures that spirit. The characters are terrific and I love that each can help the other be brave. The humor is warm and readers will smile from the first sentence on to the perfect ending. Tony Diteruzzi's illustrations appear on almost every page and besides being enchanting will help propel the story.

This is pure delight. I wish I could hear Flea's story of The People Who Drink Cough-Fee All Day! Perhaps a trip to 11 Avenue Le Play is in order.
May 6, 2015
The Story of Diva and Flea is the fantastically French tale of a wanderer and homebody who become friends and share the best of both their worlds. Embodying the romantic Parisian spirit, Mo Willems makes his chapter book debut. With his signature wit and added je ne se qua his text is accompanied by stunning illustrations from master artist, Tony Diterlizzi. Despite it having been Tony's first trip to Paris, he encapsulated Parisian life absolutely. A wonderful story of friendship, bravery and a delightful introduction to French culture. Viva La Diva et Flea!
Profile Image for Edie.
463 reviews13 followers
May 30, 2015
A chapte book by the irrepressible Mo Willems with inspired illustrations by Tony DiTerlizzi...a perfect combination for this friendship story set in Paris ....with charm, as you would expect some life lessons...like trying on new roles, fun pronunciations and illustrations that do more than justice to the grandest city of them all.....and look for the picture of Mo, the only fully portrayed adult,,,,and deservedly so. Tres bien.
Profile Image for Lorna.
1,269 reviews11 followers
December 5, 2015
It took me a few page turns to warm up to this book, as it is a huge diversion from the usual Mo Willems-tales, but it is a charming story of friendships and how we can encourage others to be brave. It is formatted as a beginning chapter book, but the vocabulary seems pretty advanced to me. DiTerlizzi's illustrations are lovely. I think it would be fun to use with older students in upper elementary and middle school as we encourage them to step outside their comfort zones.
Profile Image for Genevieve.
449 reviews6 followers
October 18, 2015
Cute story, cute art, nice subtle message of learning to trust and explore. My only quibble is that it's meant for early-ish readers (1st-2nd) and plays with English words like coffee (cough-fee) and breakfast but could stand to give some pronunciation clues for the French terms. K-2nd, maybe younger kids read-aloud bib too
Profile Image for Vernon Area Public Library KIDS.
914 reviews36 followers
July 20, 2018
What do you get when you pair two great talents like Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi? You get The Story of Diva and Flea, a cute book nominated for the 2019 Bluestem Award in Illinois. For kids who like animals (and talking animals, at that!) this book about friendship is a sure winner.

Reviewed by Lisa Coleman, Youth and School Services, Vernon Area Public Library
Profile Image for Maria Kramer.
681 reviews21 followers
September 7, 2016
A sweet little book. Reminds me of books I read as child by Esther Averill. Not much really happens, but a little dog learns to explore and a wandering cat gets a home. Beautifully illustrated.
6 reviews
August 9, 2018
It was a cute story about a cat and a dog. Who were best friends.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 739 reviews

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