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Madeline: 02/01/07


Madeline's author, Ludwig Bemelmans was quite a character. He came to the United States after shooting a head waiter at his uncle's restaurant. He had tried and failed in the States as a waiter and served in the army. It wasn't until after the army that he settled into a career as an illustrator and author. The Madeline series takes its name from Bemelmans's wife but the main character's antics were styled on their daughter.

Madeline is one of those books that has been in print for so long that everyone seems to know the story even without necessarily having read it. When I was pregnant with Sean, Ian and I saw the 1998 film version of Madeline. While watching (and enjoying) the film we realized that we couldn't remember the story. Ian went out and bought a copy for Sean.

The story is told through a simple rhyme taken a few words at a time across pages. The bulk of the tale though is in the illustrations as Madeline and her classmates walk in their "two straight lines" before many famous Parisian sites.

Each page seems too simple but there is no line nor color nor word wasted. Some pages are drawn in black and white lines on a bright yellow background. Other times the drawings border on Impressionism and take a full pallet. So if you read the book, read it once at normal speed to enjoy the words. Then read it again at a slower pace to enjoy the artwork.

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