Madeline and the Gypsies – 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: 3 out of 10.

Bechdel: 1 point
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story:  1 point
Discretionary ideological points: 0 points

This is probably my least favourite of the Madeline books, just because of all the “gypsy” stereotypes. I realise it’s a product of its time and all that, but I think the whole “gypsy” concept is still so problematic, that I found myself wanting to have a long conversation with C about why it’s not really an okay term to use any more, and why a lot of the ideas in the book are actually pretty prejudiced.

I mean, the “gypsies” help Madeline and Pepito at first, but then it veers into the whole ‘kidnapping of children’ thing, and that’s such a deep seated and problematic trope that it made me wince a bit.

The book still passes the Bechdel (though only just and it’s a bit of a grey area) because of conversations between Madeline and Ms Clavel, but I haven’t given it the diversity point because, although there are characters of colour, they are there pretty much only to serve as a plot device – and one entrenched mostly in stereotype and prejudice.

I mean, the story has the characteristic rapidity of pace and odd meanderiness that is typical of these books, and it is quite fun to read, butI can’t really get past all the “gypsy” racism stuff. Maybe skip this one. Unless you want to use it as a talking point.

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