Throwback Thursday: Madeline

Screen shot 2014-06-05 at 12.21.47 PMLudwig Bemelmans’ Madeline is probably one of my favorite picture books from my childhood. As an adult, I enjoy the casual art style which looks like it was scribbled on to the paper and never touched with an eraser. Like other picture books, much of the description is left up to the picture and rarely mentioned with the text itself.

Screen shot 2014-06-04 at 2.37.21 PMMadeline is the story of a small but brave girl named Madeline. She lives in an old Parisian home with Miss Clavel and eleven other girls. They take walks through the park Screen shot 2014-06-04 at 2.37.27 PMand the city and are always very well behaved. Madeline is the bravest of the twelve girls. She is not afraid of mice, nor tigers, and even handles her appendectomy pretty well for someone between the ages of 4 and 7.

Screen shot 2014-06-04 at 2.37.53 PMOne night Madeline wakes up in pain and Miss Clavel has to call the doctor. The doctor rushes over and determines that the cause of the pain is Madeline’s appendix and it must be taken out immediately. As an adult I have one little tiff with this part and that is: The book is intended for ages 4-7. When Madeline is taken to the hospital the text reads “In a car with a red light, they drove off into the night.” Without the addition of the picture that’s not very clear that it’s an ambulance. I wonder how differently children would view that scene without the picture.

Screen shot 2014-06-04 at 2.38.19 PMMadeline does just fine in her surgery and wakes up 2 hours afterward (I don’t know about you but I usually end up sleeping 2 days after I have to get put under for something, not the point though). The girls come to visit her at the hospital and for the first time in the book, they are not in 2 straight lines.

The one place on earth that they should be in 2 straight lines, and some of them are jumping rope. I just thought that was weird.

But what an interesting story to approach for children. Surgery of any kind can be scary regardless of age. Good work, Bemelmans!

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