Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Ludwig Bemelmans
Picture Book  Series
For ages 3 to 7
Penguin, 1996   ISBN: 978-0140557619

Madeline lives in an "old house in Paris that was covered with vines" with eleven other little girls. Miss Clavel takes care of them, accompanying them as they go for walks through the streets of Paris, as they takes their meals, and as they get ready for bed. Now, though Madeline is the smallest of the girls, she is also the bravest, the most audacious, and the one who causes poor Miss Clavel the most headaches and worry.

One day Madeline really gives Miss Clavel an even bigger than normal fright. In the middle of the night, Madeline starts to cry and Miss Clavel quickly calls the doctor who determines that this is a very serious business indeed; Madeline is very ill and must go to the hospital at once.

For many days the eleven remaining girls who live in the house all covered with vines must wait and wonder, until at last they are allowed to go and visit Madeline - and what a surprise they get when they walk into her hospital room.

This classic tale has lost none of its appeal and simple charm. For little girls today, as for those who first read this book when it was published in 1939, Madeline who says "Pooh-pooh" to a tiger in the zoo and who is not afraid of mice in the kitchens, is an instant friend and playmate. Wonderful full page illustrations - which are  instantly recognized by women all over the world - are rich with color and movement, and they beautifully reflect the mood of the text.

This book was one of the 1940 Caldecott Honor winning titles.