Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans


“In an old house in Paris/that was covered in vines/lived twelve little girls in two straight lines”, thus begins the classic story of a little Parisian girl named Madeline. Madeline is a universal story of a little French girl. She is the smallest of the twelve girls, who are watched over by Miss Clavel. They take all sorts of trips around the city. Madeline is fearless when it comes to mice and tigers in the zoo. She loves getting into mischief, which mostly involves scaring Miss Clavel. Unfortunately, one night Miss Clavel wakes up in a panic. Madeline is crying out in pain! She has to get her appendix removed. She gets to eat all the ice cream she wants, and gets some new toys too. All of her friends are jealous, and they want their appendixes removed too!


I loved this story growing up, because of the simple rhymes that guide the narrative. There are only a few words per page, yet the simple words coupled with the pictures tell a timeless tale.  My parents always used to quote “In two straight lines they broke their bread/and brushed their teeth/and went to bed” (probably to hasten the nightly routine). Since the story is set in Paris, France, the girls naturally visit the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Church of the Sacre Coeur, and many more famous Parisian sights. Because of the endearing and enduring character of Madeline, this story has continued to be a classic. It is so popular that there are many sequels and even a movie!


Reviewed by Emily Kreid



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