The stories are now 75 years old: those Madeline books of our childhood. She was one of 12 little girls, in their lines, leaving a house covered in vines. Madeline is on exhibit in New York at the New York Historical Society.
The books, written by Ludwig Bemelmans, continue to delight children. He was an Austrian immigrant to the United States. He wrote the first book on the back of a menu in Pete’s Tavern in Manhattan. Bemelmens wrote four other Madeline books before his 1962 death. His grandson continues to pen the stories.
Life magazine first published the Madeline story – the week World War II began. And while the story is set in France, French children have not appreciated Madeline as Americans have. The France in the stories reflects an imagined, not realistic Paris.
Still, the stories continue to delight children. And after the exhibit closes in October, the story of Madeline’s stories while live forever at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass. Some gold does stay forever.
(S-R archive photo: John Bemelmans Marciano, grandson of Ludwig Bemelmans, 2008)