816866Originally published in 1939, this wonderful rhyming book is gearing up to celebrate its 75th birthday in 2014.  This wonderful book has been read and memorized by generations who fall in love with Madeline.  She is small for her age, a boarder in a boarding school in Paris run by nuns, rather precocious, and a bit ornery, I’d say!  She is courageous, expresses herself, is loved and loves those around her.   The rhyming text and the delightful art set the stage for a children’s picture book that just doesn’t go away and probably never will for generations to come.  The story was inspired by Mr. Bemelmans’ personal stay in a hospital on an island off France.

When I was a young girl, my sister, three years younger, took to this book in the mid to late 1950s.  She memorized the whole book, acted out the scenes as she told us the story over and over again.  Funny, I can still recite the beginning of this book because of my sister: “In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. In two straight lines they broke their bread and brushed their teeth and went to bed.  They smiled at the good and frowned at the bad and sometimes they were very sad.  They left the house at half past nine in two straight lines in rain or shine — the smallest one was Madeline.”

The artwork was painted by Ludwig Bemelmans in bright colors and broad strokes across the pages.  The pictures are simple and yet tell the story so well.  The book’s paintings are printed by lithography.  Mr. Bemelmans loved to illustrate books, magazine covers for The New Yorker, painted murals at the Carlyle Hotel in New York, and so much more.  His work is on display on the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Museé National d’Art of Paris.  You can find more about Mr. Bemelmans and Madeline @ http://www.madeline.com/

Mr. Bemelmans grandson, John Bemelmans Marciano, is carrying on the Madeline stories with new adventures of his own for this special little girl.

Reading Level: 3 – 8 Years

Award:  Caldecott Honor Book

Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1962), is most noted for his Madeline books, six of which were published from 1939-1961.  A seventh was discovered after his death and published posthumously in 1999.  He also was known as a painter, an illustrator, and a writer for both children and adults.  A sequel to this Madeline was the Caldecott Medal winner, Madeline’s Rescue.

Book Information:

  • Publisher: The Viking Press, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1939, renewed copyright in 1967
  • Series: Madeline Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 48
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Originally reviewed by me October, 2013.


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