if you love paris, you'll love this book for kids

September 7, 2009


Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

I was reading a book called Reading Magic by Mem Fox the other day and in it she tells how her daughter moved to Paris as an adult. She explains that she and her husband knew they should not be surprised that she did this because she grew up reading the Madeline books which are set in Paris. 

I have no memory of reading these books as a child, but I had seen them at the library (recently). I had just assumed that they were for older children. However, since Paris is one of my very favorite places, I couldn't resist checking it out.

I opened the book and to my surprise found that there were only one or two sentences per page--perfect for my two-year-old's attention span. As if that weren't enough, the pictures were absolutely gorgeous--I had to check it out. 

I was sold. Now to see about Juliet. 

I knew after we read the first page that she, too, was completely in love with this book. 

"In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines." 

Madeline is the smallest of the twelve girls who live in a boarding school under the protection of Miss Clavel, a nun. 

The little girls are seen in various spots in Paris such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Church of Sacre Coeur, to name a few. (I'm telling you the illustrations are amazing!)

One night, Miss Clavel wakes up to Madeline crying. The doctor is called who determines the problem is Madeline's appendix-- She is rushed to the hospital, has surgery, and then spends the rest of the book recovering. (Sounds kind of scary, but it's all just hinted at and told in rhyme, so it is totally accessible for a younger child.)

The other eleven little girls go to the hospital to visit Madeline one day and are so impressed by the hospital room, the dollhouse (a gift from papa), the VERY impressive scar, that they wake up crying that night asking if they too can have their appendixes out. 

So aside from giving your child a desire to have appendicitis and increasing the chance that she will move across the ocean when she grows up, this book is amazing! 

No seriously, it is such a great book. Your little girl will love it. And you will, too. 

I think it would be especially good to check out if you are planning a visit to Paris or if you have just returned from there. 

If you have a little Madeline--this is a book she MUST own. I know two little Madelines and I am thinking this would be a great birthday gift for when they turn two or three. 

**You may have noticed that the picture shows the title spelled "Madeleine" while I have used the "Madeline" spelling throughout. I don't really know why there are two versions out there, but the book I am holding uses the "Madeline" spelling throughout. If you are considering giving this as a gift, make sure you check to make sure you have the spelling you want. 

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