Friday, October 17, 2014

Celebrating 75 years of Madeline

Madeline, one of my favorite characters, turned 75 this year.
I have always enjoyed the books, in fact I think I love them even more now, than I did as a little girl. The presentation of twelve little girls in two straight lines running through Paris is marvelous. With beautiful illustrations, charming rhymes, and a fantastic depiction of a young girl's adventures through one of the most fabulous cities on earth - who wouldn't envy Madeline? 
She finds a way to get into trouble wherever she goes, but with a yellow coat and Eiffel Tower in the background, a fiesty red-head couldn't look better :) 
This past weekend, The CBS Morning Show had a wonderful segment on the beloved story books, that I have shared below. 

While researching the segment, I came across a couple wonderful articles that I would recommend checking out if you're interested in the history of Madeline, author Ludwig Bemelman and Madeline's legacy. 

I took bits and pieces of an excerpt from The New York Times piece by Edward Rothstein for you to read below:
"Could anything be more steeped in the order and orders of the Old World than those 12 little girls leave an old house covered with vines, in two straight lines, in rain or shine? It has been 75 years since they made their appearance in Ludwig Bemelman's classic Madeline with their hairbows and yellow hats: models of propriety being led through the gradeur of touristic Paris (the Opera, the Place Vendome, Notre Dame, the Tuileries). Except, of course, for Madeline, who never quite stayed in place. 
"Many readers under the age of 95 have Bemelman's images and words inscribed in their consciousness: Madeline daring to 'pooh-pooh' a tiger in the zoo; Lord Cucuface thinking it disgraceful for 'young ladies to embrace a dog of uncertain race;' and, of course, Miss Clavel, the only woman in children's literature, who, when afraid of a disaster, could run fast and faster, and give the black habit of a nun the sweep of a superhero's cape. 
"Yet there are many particular aspects to the first and best of these books...Here is a tale about Paris by an Austrian immigrant to the United States, who began writing it on the back of a menu in Pete's Tavern on Irving Place in Manhattan. Madeline first appeared in Life magazine in September 1939, the same week World World II began, but she is immersed in a sacral, almost antique world...
This Paris certainly didn't exist at the time, and was doomed to become an even more distant memory in a matter of months...
"In fact, the books have not found a French audience the way they have found an American one. They show an imagined France, not an experienced France. The only hint of disruption in their fantastical vision of an old order is Madeline herself, whose spunky individualism is a mark of modernity, and whose mischief just manages to shake Miss Clavel's equanimity without the more serious consequences history was about to provide...
"Even the final lines of Madeline are meant with a wink, as we learn 'And that's all there is - there isn't anymore'...and though you aren't left deeply moved by the fascinations of this show, by the end, you feel an urge to applaud." 
read more here.

If you happen to be in New York, this weekend is the last opportunity to visit "Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans" at the New-York Historical Society. The collection honors the 75th anniversary of Madeline's publication, with an exhibition of more than 90 original artworks. Drawings from all of the Madeline books will be featured, in addition to Bemelman's drawings of the old Ritz Hotel in New York, murals from a re-discovered Paris bistro, panels from the Onassis yacht, and cache fabrics based on an early picture book, as described by the New-York Historical Society's exhibition announcement. 
Enjoy your weekend, toodles!


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