Madeline in London


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Pepito has moved to England. To help celebrate his birthday, Miss Clavel and the girls pay him a visit. When his mother won't let Pepito keep one of his presents--a horse--Madeline is more than willing to help out. Full color.

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Dec 18, 2018

From The Days Of Reading To My Granddaughter

"Madeline in London" (1961) was the last of the six "Madeline" tales written by Ludwig Bemelmans (1898 -- 1962). Born in Austria, Bemelmans became an American citizen in 1918. He wrote many books for children and adults and was also an artist. But Bemelmans will always be best remembered for "Madeline", with her spunk, audacity, and mischief. I have been enjoying revisiting the Madeline stories with my four-year old granddaughter.

This book moves from Madeline's accustomed surroundings in "the old house in Paris covered with vines" to London and back again. The book features Pepito, the son of the Spanish Ambassador who lives next to the "old house". Pepito is also a character in "Madeline and the Bad Hat" and in "Madeline and the Gypsies." When the Spanish Ambassador is reassigned to London, Pepito becomes wan and lonely. Thus the Spanish Ambassador invites Miss Clavel and her twelve charges, particularly Madeline to hop across the English chanel for a visit to celebrate Pepito's birthday.

Our thirteen wanderers arrive in London without a suitable birthday present, and they take it upon themselves to give Pepito a horse. The mischief begins. The horse takes off for a jaunt through London carrying Pepito and Madeline on his back. After a merry chase, the trio is recovered. The unfortunate horse does little to endear himself to the family as he enters the Ambassador's garden and devours the vegetables and flowers. Madame Ambassador has had enough. At the end of the visit, as Madeline, Miss Clavel and the eleven other girls return home to Paris, they take with them a 14th traveler.

The illustrations are in Bemelmans's freestyle, yellow, black and white with some full-color drawings as well. Scenes of London and its palaces and Big Ben intermingle with drawings of the errant horse, the Spanish Ambassador's residence, Madeline and her companions, and, of course" the old vine-covered house.

This book doesn't seem to be quite as well-known as the other volumes in the Madeline series. But it will delight young, budding readers and the adults who care for them.

Robin Friedman

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