Now, here’s a comeback worth noting: and this girl doesn’t skimp on her costume or botch her choreography.
Juvenile fiction star Madeline, the irrepressible little Parisian orphan, sporter of the trademark blue coat and yellow hat since her debut in 1939, has waited nearly 11 years for a new full-length adventure. Her creator, artist Ludwig Bemelmans, died in 1962, but his style is revived by his grandson, John Bemelmans Marciano, in Madeline and the Cats of Rome, new from Viking.
Interestingly, though Viking was Bemelmans’ established publisher, that house actually rejected the first Madeline book, which was picked up by Simon and Schuster.
Marciano has author/illustrated other Madeline books, a board book, Madeline Loves Animals, and a more novelty-style manners-themed book, Madeline Says Merci. 1999’s Madeline in America, and Other Holiday Tales was based on Bemelman’s unfinished manuscript, “Madeline’s Christmas in Texas,” which Marciano, a self-taught artist like the grandfather he never met, completed and illustrated.
But Madeline and the Cats of Rome marks a return to Madeline’s more familiar storytelling style. The cover alone is almost eerie with its classic Bemelmans-influenced illustration.
This new adventure puts Madeline and ever-sweet Miss Clavel’s other students in a typical outing-gone-wrong, meandering through the sites of Rome and culminating in a feline rescue typical of the daring yet compassionate Madeline.
In a culture of iffy influences and unbalanced role models, I’d gladly have my kids follow Madeline anywhere.