Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The "Madeline" Books by Ludwig Bemelmans

Madeline, Madeline's Rescue, Madeline and the Bad Hat, Madeline and the Gypsies, and Madeline in America and Other Holiday Tales by Ludwig Bemelmans

The original "Madeline" was first published in 1939
Source: All five books purchased for my daughter

"In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines."

So begins the book Madeline, the first in a series of books written first by Ludwig Bemelmans and more recently by his grandson John Bemelmans Mariano. The books are charming for their poetry, lovely drawings but most of all for the plucy little Madeline, "the smallest of all."  The girls are shepherded by Miss Clavel and enjoy great adventures throughout Paris but the biggest excitement of the book was Madeline's appendicitis attack.

Madeline's Rescue is the story of what happens when Madeline is rescued from the Seine River by a dog and won the Caldecott Medal in 1954.  In Madeline and the Bad Hat readers are introduced to Pepito, the son of the Spanish Ambassador who moves into the house next door to the girls.  Madeline and Pepito head off for great adventures in Madeline and the Gypsies.  "Madeline in America" is a collection of stories that include stories started by Bemelmans but finished by Marciano.  It also includes a lovely story about Christmas with Bemelmans written by his daughter.

I read the books as part of the "You've Got Mail" Challenge.  In that movie, Meg Ryan played a character that owned a children's book store.  All of the books/authors for the challenge were shown or mentioned in the movie.  It was a pleasure to revisit "Madeline;" I just may have to rewatch the movie, starring Frances McDormand as well!


  1. I read the first book as a little girl probably 8 gazillion times. I loved it so much, and it was probably because of it that I always wanted to go to Paris! I hope your daughter is as entranced as I was!

  2. These sound so cute, and it's too bad that my daughter is not in the targeted age range for them! I bet she would have loved them when she was younger. I may still have to check them out though!

  3. I have a funny story.. would you expect anything less from me?

    Well, one year I ordered a copy of Madeline on sale, but it was a special edition and gorgeous and all that so I bought it for my daughter for Christmas. I think she was about 3 at the time.

    When it came in the mail, it came in this tiny box and I went..."Uh oh!" Sure enough, it's tiny! Small enough to put in my pocket and get lost.

    BUT... The Girl loves it. She puts it in her purse of the day and reads it when we're stuck in the market, or at the doctor's, etc.

    Always read the fine print.

  4. I love Madeline..I read these to my sons when they were little!!

  5. Now who doesn't love Madeline? nice review Lisa

  6. I adore Madeline! An absolute childhood favorite! I introduced my daughters to Madeline as my mother had introduced them to me.