Book Reviews

Madeline

Growing up I had my favorite characters-Anne of Green Gables, Molly and Felicity from the American Girl collection, and last but not least, Madeline. I liked Madeline for a variety of reasons including the fact that she had red hair (so few dolls do not) and also that she lived in Paris, a favorite city of mine.

Madeline is a children’s book series by Austrian author Ludwig Bemelmans. The books have been adapted into many formats including a feature length film starring Frances McDormand as Miss Clavel (regrettably I have not seen this). The first book in the series, Madeline, was published in 1939, and with the immense success that the book had, Bemelmans would write an additional five books including one in which the famous red headed Parisian travels to London. The books are still being published to this day and are written by Bemelmans’ grandson, John Bemelmans-Marciano.

The books all start with the line “In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.” The stories are always written entirely in rhyme and convey the simple themes of daily life that would appeal to children (i.e. they brushed their teeth and went to bed).

What I love most about Madeline is its setting. Paris to me always looks good whether on the big screen, or through the words of literary great Ernest Hemingway, or even just on the pages of a children’s book in the form of a simple illustration.

There are so many books today that can help in getting a child excited for a trip, that is a trip that doesn’t include Mickey Mouse for instance. But one can never go wrong with a classic and a book that is still enchanting children more than 70 years after it was first published it just that.

Happy reading all (and travels too although that goes unsaid)!

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Jo Ann M.
    September 8, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Although I have never been, Paris is one of my favorite cities as well! I love to read anything and everything about it!

    The Madeline books are so sweet & funny. She’s such a positive character for children to identify with no matter what country they are from.

    Love the beautiful illustrations in those big colorful books! Bemelmans was kind of like the French Dr. Seuss.

    They did such a good job with the cartoons. I love the narration by Christopher Plummer. It is so calming.

  • Reply
    the red headed traveler
    September 10, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    She is most definitely such a literary role model for little girls (I don’t know how many little boys would gravitate to Madeline though 😉

    Yes, I hadn’t looked at Madeline books in years and just so enjoyed seeing the beautiful illustrations of Paris again. I’ve never seen the cartoons but C. Plummer’s voice is pretty soothing.

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