The Quick 10: Madeline

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I have to admit I never really got into the Madeline books, but I know they're a huge hit with some people. I'm not sure why I was never enamored of the gutsy little gal, but I might have to go back and revisit the series after learning these 10 facts:

1. Madeline has been seven or eight years old since 1939, which is when the little redhead made her debut.
2. If you're a Madeline fan, no doubt you remember the ending lines of each book: "That's all there is, there isn't any more." We actually have Ethel Barrymore to thank for this line "“ she first uttered on stage following the curtain call for the play "Sunday." She got such thunderous applause for her performance that to quiet the crowd, she announced, "That's all there is, there isn't any more." The line was catchy and eventually found its way into the books.

3. Madeline's character was inspired by the author's daughter, Barbara, but she gets her name from the author's wife. Madeline's life story was based on that of Bemelmans' mother, with a touch of his own childhood mixed in. Mrs. Bemelmans was educated at a convent, and Ludwig himself recalled his boarding school days when he and his classmates had to line up in two perfectly straight lines to go anywhere. And Madeline's famous appendix (or lack thereof)? While recovering from a biking accident, Bemelmans came across a little girl who had just had her appendix removed.
4. Despite popular belief, Madeline was never intended to be an orphan. She was merely away at school, according to Bemelmans' family. When the 1998 live-action movie was made, though, the screenwriters decided to go ahead and play up the "orphan" storyline, but this isn't original canon.

5. Of all of the Madeline books, the only one to win a Caldecott Medal was 1954's Madeline's Rescue.

6. When you're one of the richest men in the word, I guess you can afford to have one of the world's foremost children's authors paint a mural on your yacht - that's what Aristotle Onassis did. Ludwig Bemelmans designed and painted a scene just for the children's dining room on Ari's famous yacht Christina O long after he made his name with the Madeline books. You can also see Bemelmans' artwork in the Carlyle Hotel in New York "“ "Central Park" is his mural that decorates the Bemelmans Bar there. It's the only publicly accessible artwork by Ludwig Bemelmans that's still around. And yes, Madeline does have a little cameo. If you look close, you can spot her in the picture!

7. Although Ludwig Bemelmans has been dead since 1962, Madeline still continues her adventures, lining up in one of two straight lines, leaving the house at half past nine. That's because Ludwig's grandson, John Bemelmans-Marciano, has taken over the series. His titles include Madeline in the White House, Madeline in Texas and Madeline and the Cats of Rome. Sadly, Ludwig died before the grandson who would carry on his legacy was ever born.

8. Madeline's debut on the big screen was nominated for an Academy Award. The 1952 self-titled film lost the award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons) to a Tom and Jerry short called Johann Mouse.

9. Madeline is one of those "If at first you don't succeed" stories. It was first rejected several times before Simon and Schuster picked it up. Bemelmans was 41 when the first book was published (he did have a couple of not-as-successful children's books under his belt by that point, though).

10. In the 1990s, you could buy a Madeline doll that came complete with an appendectomy scar. Did anyone have one?

Stay tuned for next week's children's book Quick 10s! I'm still taking suggestions, so if you have a series you're dying to know a little more about, leave a comment or a Tweet. And if you've missed this week's posts, here you go:

Beverly Cleary
Amelia Bedelia
Mr. Men and Little Miss
Berenstain Bears

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April 16, 2010 - 1:42pm
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