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Mad About Madeline: 01/17/08

Mad About Madeline

Mad About Madeline is a lovely hardbound collection of the six Madeline tales published during Ludwig Bemelmans's lifetime. He wrote a seventh story called Madeline in America and Other Holiday Tales that was published posthumously in 1999. Besides the Madeline stories, there is an introduction by Anna Quindlen on how the stories have enriched her life as a parent and at the end of the volume, there are sketches and a brief history of the Madeline stories.

The six stories in this volume are:

  • Madeline (1939)
  • Madeline and the Bad Hat (1956)
  • Madeline's Rescue (1953)
  • Madeline and the Gypsies (1959)
  • Madeline in London (1961)
  • Madeline's Christmas (1965)

My favorite stories from the book are Madeline and Madeline's Rescue because the are the most grounded in reality. Madeline's life may be filled with routine but it seems believable and something that a little girl living at a boarding school in Paris might do. Her world while exotic my children living in California is nothing beyond what and her classmates can walk to.

With the introduction of "the bad hat", Madeline's world opens up to places beyond Paris. In Madeline and the Bat Hat, the story stays to the form Madeline and Madeline's Rescue the introduction of an ambassador's son is a jumping off point for the next two stories.

The next two stories involve travel to places outside of Paris. In Madeline and Gypsies, the travel is to affect the rescue of Madeline and the Bad Hat. In Madeline in London it is to attend the birthday party of the now relocated Bad Hat. Outside the confines of Paris these stories seem to lose some of their charm.

In the Christmas story, Madeline seems noticeably older. Though she and her classmates are back in the house, the story is out of character for the previous ones because Madeline is now in a position of authority. She is left to care for Miss Clavel and the other girls who are all suffering from winter colds. She also appears noticeably older in this story. The Christmas story almost works as a fitting end to the book except for the inclusion of flying carpets. Until now there has been no evidence that magic might actually be real in Madeline's world. For that reason alone, I can't recommend the story as much as I otherwise would.

Overall, though, I enjoyed Mad About Madeline and I recommend the book to fans of Madeline. It is interesting to see how the stories evolve and it is nice to have all but the last one in one convenient volume.

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Friday, January, 18, 2008 at 06:07:05


I really enjoyed these books as a child. It might be time to revisit them! "

Comment #2: Saturday, January, 19, 2008 at 17:09:27


I met Madeline when I took Kiddie Lit in college. When I taught my 2nd graders loved her. I had a huge poster in my classroom of Madeline at the zoo: "To the tiger in the zoo, Madeline just said 'Pooh, pooh'" The mother of one of my parents was relieved to see it since her son kept reciting the quote, but she didn't know what he meant and thought it was something rude. (obviously, I taught a very long time ago) Een now, I can never just say "something is not right". I must quote Miss Clavel. I can see a trip to the children's section of the bookstore is in order. "

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