Friday, September 21, 2007

Madeline and the Gypsies

Madeline and the Gypsies
by Ludwig Bemelmans/ published 1959 by The Viking Press

Ok soooo. I grew up with Madeline, Madeline's Rescue and Madeline's Christmas, but never before had I seen this one. It all started a few weeks ago when we checked out Madeline in London from the library, and in that there is reference to the Gypsies and the Bad Hat, neither of which I'd ever read before. Since Maddy is a must read at our house, I figured I'd better track down these other two that I had not experienced as a child. First off, I love how Bemelsmans always harks back to the original book on the first page of all his subsequent books.

In an old house in Paris that was
covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.

The original book holds one of my favorite children's book end lines ever.

That's all there is
There isn't anymore.

But that aside, this book is freaky. I mean, Madeline and her friend Pepito essentially get kidnapped by gypsies and in order for the gypsy momma to hide them from Miss Clavel, she sews them into a lion hide... and the roam the countryside (as a lion) looking for someone who can help them out of their dilemma.

The Gypsy Mama said, "How would you like to try on
This lovely costume of a lion?"
With a curved needle and some string
She sewed both the children in
And nobody knew what was inside
The tough old lion's leathery hide.

Freaky. It's like another of my son's faves, The Terrible Tiger, where this tiger marauds the countryside eating people until finally he swallows a tailor who uses his scissors to cut a hole in the tiger's side so they can all escape. I mean, how do you even explain that to a kid? I love it!

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