Madeline in London – Ludwig Bemelmans

More in the Series – Madeline
“More in the Series” scores the other books in a series where one (or more) of the books have made it into the 1001 Books list. Mostly because I’m a bit of a completionist. 

POINTS: 2 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story:  2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 0 points.

I think this is one of the weaker Madeline books, personally. Maybe it was just that it was so soon after ‘The Gruffalo” but some of the rhymes in this one felt a bit forced to me. (I actually put it down to translation initially, but then I googled Bemelmans, and it turns out he was writing in English, so we can’t blame it on that.)

Madeline’s little friend Pepito moves to London so the girls and Miss Clavel go to visit him. There’s a lot of the usual London stuff – Royal guards and palaces and whatnot. There is no Bechdel pass (despite there being two named female characters, they never actually have a dialogue in this book), and the only person of colour in the whole book is one of the cooks at the Pepito’s parents’ embassy, and I balk at giving it a point for diversity when the only POC is a servant.

The story leaves something to be desired too. Madeline and her friends buy Pepito a horse for his birthday, adopting it from the home for retired horses. There is a joke about making glue, because of course, and the horse is taken off to Pepito’s house. It escaped, shenanigans ensue, they bring him back where he eats Pepito’s mother’s flowers and is summarily banned from staying. So the girls put him on a plane and take him back to Paris with them. Like you do. (I also remember what an enormous fuss was made about them having a dog, so it seems rather unwise for them to upgrade to a horse – especially one they allow to sleep INSIDE the house.

It just feels a bit less coherent than the other books, and not quite as good. It’s still pretty fun to read though, and C gave it a thumbs up, but if you’re going to read Madeline books, this may not be the place to start.

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