I am making a determined attempt to get some of the ‘old stock’ from under my bed, and into the sale section of my shop. These are cards I made years ago, onto which my former contact details have been written.
‘Madeline in London’ by Ludwig Bemelmans. First published in 1962, but this edition was published by Hippo in 1989.
I have no recollection of acquiring the book, but I’m sure it will have been beyond repair.
I adore Bemelmans, he was something of a maverick. If you are not familiar with the Madeline books, boy they are good. At first glance you are taken in by the beautiful illustrations.
And then you meet Madeline:
‘She was not afraid of mice,
She loved winter, snow, and ice,
To the tiger in the zoo
Madeline just said, “Pooh-Pooh” ‘
Did I mention all of the books rhyme? Except ‘Madeline’, who never quite rhymes. The publishers wanted this changed, but Bemelmans wouldn’t budge. See what I mean? What’s not to like?
Once you know feisty Madeline, you are hooked, she takes no messing. A spunky female role model. A free spirit. She attends a boarding school in Paris. Pepito, the Spanish Ambassador’s son lives next door. In this book, Pepito moves to London and the schoolgirls visit him.
Madeline (who by the way, celebrates her 75th birthday this year) is a character who stays with you, like Pooh, Clarice Bean, Pi and Jesse Pinkman. But I don’t know who I love more, Madeline, or Bemelmans himself.
Bemelmans lived life on his own terms. He was born in 1898 in Austria/Hungry and died in New York City in 1962, at the age of 64. He became an American citizen in 1918. He didn’t start writing until he was 46, and had his first book published when he was 50. Again, what is not to like?
There are many Bemelmans quotes, but this is my favourite, “We are writing for children, but not for idiots.”
See you soon,