by Ludwig Bemelmans
Who wouldn’t love the story of Madeline? “In an old house in Paris/ That was covered with vines/ Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.” The girls do everything together: “In two straight lines they broke their bread/ and brushed their teeth/ and went to bed.” As an ensemble, the schoolgirls travel the streets of Paris, past the Opera, where they “smiled at the good,” and, after spying a thief in the Place Vendôme, they “frowned at the bad.” So when Madeline comes down with appendicitis one night (“Something was not right,” Miss Clavel thinks), the other 11 girls want to follow the heroine’s example. Especially after they visit Madeline in the hospital, and she shows off "the biggest surprise by far--/ on her stomach/ was a scar!" Ludwig Bemelmans’s predominantly yellow and black illustrations lead youngsters right alongside the dozen girls, past Notre Dame cathedral, and through the climbing streets of Montmartre. Every several pages, the images erupt into a full-color double-page painting, like the image of the flowering Gardens at Luxembourg. Your youngsters will want to stick with Madeline through her many other adventures in follow-up books.