Madeline books by Ludwig Bemelmans were childhood favorites of mine and now as a parent I love snuggling up and sharing them with my 3 year old. Here is why we are Mad about Madeline!
Madeline This is the original in this series of books. In it we are introduced to the boarding school in Paris, the ever steady Miss Clavel the headmistress, the 12 little girls and of course Madeline. Madeline is brave, spunky and in this book gets very very sick. She ends up in the hospital with appendicitis, and soon as it happens with young kids all the girls wish they could go to the hospital too. This book started my love affair with Paris, and sparked my childhood dream of going to boarding school . As a mom and when I was a teacher I loved this book for the author's uncanny rhymes.
Madeline's Rescue was perhaps my favorite book in the whole series. In this story brave little Madeline is perhaps too brave for her own good , ad while daringly walking along the edge of a bridge she falls in the Siene. Luckily she is as the title suggests , rescued by a fine dog! The dog is immediately adopted by the school but things go awry after the annual inspection by the board of trustees. I love all the illustrations in this book, so many of the very distinct quartiers of Paris are showcased , and readers really get a feel for what the city is like through the experience of these little girls. I think most kids can relate to having a lost pet or simply yearning for one to snuggle with.
Madeline and the Gypsies This book was written in 1959 which gets a few raised eyebrows now over 50 years later. The book itself is full of fantasy adventure. Madeline teams up with the Spanish ambassador's son Pepito and together they are forgotten at the circus only to be taken by the gypsy mama to the next circus stop. When the gypsie mama discovers that they have written to Miss Clavel and she is on her way to take them home she sews them into a Lion suit as a disguise. All is well in the end but not with some fantastical details in the middle. I love that at first the kids are overjoyed at the lax rules, no tooth brushing, staying up late but find out soon it's not as cool as they thought.
Madeline in London scared the heck out of me as a child but my son loves it. See in this installment Pepito the son of the Spanish ambassador moves to London and everyone is sad. For his birthday his dad flies the girls to London for a treat. While in London they buy him a horse for a gift and Madeline and Pepito get swept up in another adventure. What scared me as a child was that the horse is saved from being "glue' at one point, and is found dead ( although it turns out it's just sick) at another. Use your best judgment but I wouldn't introduce the series with this book!