M is for:

MADELINE by Ludwig Bemelmans

MADELINE is another book from my childhood. 

First line: “In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in twelve straight lines.”

End line: “And she (Miss Clavel) turned out the light and closed the door and that’s all there is there isn’t anymore.”

Madeline tugs at my heart. She brightened the world of everyone around her. When she was absent from them, there was a hole. Madeline was fearless--not scared of mice. ME EITHER! She stood her ground with a caged tiger and said “Pooh, pooh.” ME TOO! Not really, but one time at the zoo, a black panther eyed my newborn son, from his enclosure and licked his lips. I didn’t say “Pooh, pooh”, but I did say to the cat, “No!” And I removed my baby from the big cat area. 

So, I've pondered this question for years. And yes I could Google it. Does Madeline live at a boarding school or does she live in an orphanage? Either is fine with me because (the child) Teresa felt like the girls had a safe environment. 

To the adult Teresa this matters.


  1. I had always thought it was a boarding school - but you are right, it could have been an orphanage. NOT one of the ones we hear so much about, but one which was safe and nurturing. Which does indeed matter.

  2. I love, love this book! And my daughter did, too. I believe I have it memorized.

    I think she lives at a boarding school...from the one where she has to go to the hospital in the middle of the night (another fave of my daughter's).

  3. I never read the Madeline book.....I've always avoided stuff that's got anything to do with French or France as that is one country that has never interested me.

  4. My kids love the Madeline cartoons movies and books. Now I have the theme song stuck in my head.

    Stephen Tremp
    A to Z Cohost
    M is for Movies

  5. They were too well dressed to live in an orphanage. Right? Now I'm not so sure the more I think about it.

  6. My little girl is getting into these books from the library, recently. :)

  7. Your panther story reminds me of a time when my kindergarten class visited the Detroit Zoo. At the time, I was in love with tigers. Mother led the half of the class I was not in. When both halves met, I was missing. Mother knew just where to find me: the tiger's enclosure. It was ahead of its time, trying for a life-like environment for the tigers. Sure enough, there I was, having squeezed through all manner of obstructions and edging down the sloping wall to my beloved tigers.

    Mother hissed low not to attract the tigers' attention. "You get up here this minute. Don't make me hurt those tigers!"

    And such was my belief in the fearsomeness of my mother, I scampered back up the slope so as to save my beloved tigers! :-)

    1. Hi Roland - what on earth were you doing .. if your mother hadn't rescued you we wouldn't have had you here today! Not a nice idea .. ghastly to contemplate .. cheers Hilary

  8. I never read the books but I watched the cartoon as a kid. I thought it was a boarding school

  9. Never read the book, but know I know where that famous last line came from.

  10. Does the whole book rhyme? Quite fun.

  11. I've often wondered that as well. I know many orphanages were run by churches but it felt more like a boarding school to me. I also LOVED that opening line. :-)

    There was also a semi-animated version of Madeline on...disney channel, or maybe it was PBS. My kid liked to watch it and it was one I liked too. win-win.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

  12. I also loved those books. I remember reading one in the kitchen when I was supposed to be helping bake cookies, or something! I loved that line of girls, and little Madeline!


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