Volunteers needed in March!   Click here to sign up.
 Site Areas: 
Printer-friendly version   

Madeline in London

Last updated Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Author: Ludwig Bemelmans
Illustrator: Ludwig Bemelmans
Date of Publication: 1961
ISBN: 0670446483
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2013

Synopsis: What on earth could make Miss Clavel, Madeline, and her 11 nameless classmates leave belle Paris for the tea-and-crumpeted, sometimes trumpeted city of London? A mission to cheer up the lonely, thin, increasingly despondent Pepito, son of the Spanish ambassador, who had to move away from his house next door to Madeline's in Paris. In their efforts to cheer him up, and for a birthday surprise, Miss Clavel and the girls buy him a retired horse. All is fine until the horse gallops off at the sound of the trumpet to take his place at the head of the queen's Life Guards (his occupation before retiring). As readers whoosh through busy London scenes, we forget the horse has had nothing to eat all day. Upon his return to Pepito's home, he eats everything in sight: "The gardener dropped his garden hose. / There wasn't a daisy or a rose. / 'All my work and all my care / For nought! Oh, this is hard to bear.'" Meanwhile, as the horse is passed out from exhaustion and overeating, Pepito's mother says he has to go. And so Madeline and the others take the horse home with them to Paris, where "They brushed his teeth and gave him bread, / And covered him up / and put him to bed." Ludwig Bemelmans charms us again with the uniquely skewed logic and matter-of-fact madness of childhood that young readers will adore.

Note to readers:
•  This is a rhyming book. It will flow better if you can read each page fully before asking questions. The first page is like a picture-walk told by the characters with their drawings.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Who is Madeline?
•  Where is Paris? Where is London? (There may be a map or globe in the classroom to point out London, Paris, & Spain).

•  crave - to want something very much
•  a nag - an old or worn-out horse
•  dobbins - a workhorse
•  nought - another name for zero; nothing

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Why does Miss Clavel tell the girls to "look right before you cross the street"? (they drive on the opposite side of the street in London - the left side rather than the right side as in the U.S. and France)
•  Why did the girls go to London? (to visit their friend Pepito)
•  Why was Pepito sad?
•  If you were visiting a friend who was sad, what would you take to cheer them up?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a horse shaped picture. Trace one foot (you can leave your shoe on) and cut out to make the face. Glue yarn or thin strips of paper for the mane. Add big googly eyes, a nose, and a mouth by drawing or with more cut-outs.
•  Draw an airplane & cut out a big door for a horse and a smaller door for the people. Draw & cut out a horse, Madeline and her friends. Add the people entering the plane.
•  Cut out a Madeline hat with a wide brim.

Special activities:
•  Gallop around the room a little.
•  Stand "stout and loyal" like a sentry. March like the band in the book.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!