Around the world in 50 weeks transports us to Paris in the fifties.
Written and Illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans
Originally Published by Viking Press, 1953
Themes: Orphans, Paris, Trustees, dogs
Awards: Winner of 1954 Caldecott Medal
In an Old house in Paris that was covered in vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines They left the house at half past nine in two straight lines in rain or shine. The smallest one was Madeline. She was not afraid of mice. She loved winter, snow, and ice. To the tiger in the zoo Madeline just said, “Pooh Pooh!”
Fourteen years after the original Madeline, Bemelmans came up with this award winning sequel! Set in the same Parisian orphanage, with the same twelve young girls, the youngest of whom is the playful Madeline, our story unfolds. No one knew as well as Madeline how to frighten the House Mother, Miss Clavel. That is until the day Madeline, balancing on a bridge wall falls into the Seine below, and all fear her immediate demise. But, this is a children’s story after all, and rescue is at hand in the form of a quick thinking mutt, who jumps into the river and saves the foolish little girl! Naturally, Genevieve, as the orphans name her, becomes the orphanage mascot and does all that the girls do! That is until the annual Trustee inspection visit day, when the narrow-minded trustees ban Genevieve from the orphanage chasing her out into the night!
Miss Clavel and Madeline lead the rescue party, that in vain searches high and low the Parisian streets for Genevieve. They return to the orphanage empty handed and soberly settle down for the night, only to be awakened by barking.
“An old street lamp shed its light on Miss Genevieve outside.”
The ending is heartwarming, but I will leave you to read that yourselves.
Why I like this book:
I adore the scenes of Paris: The Sacré Coeur, Le marche des Halles, The Seine, Notre Dame, the cobbled streets etc etc… beautiful, archaic, evocative Parisian scenes. The story is funny and sad and sweet and real, and we all love both Madeline at Miss Genevieve, not to mention Miss Clavel! 60 years later the rhyme is still splendid and the story still a winner for kids.
My favorite lines are when the feisty Madeline springs onto a chair after Genevieve’s banishment and declares:
“Miss Genevieve, noblest dog in France, you shall have your VEN-GE-ANCE!”
This timeless classic is part of Gathering Book’s 2012 Award Winning Books Reading Challenge.
NB, this blog post is in blue today to support International Autism Awareness Day!