A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The gypsies are stereotyped. Pepito teases and is cruel to animals.
Violence & Scariness
Dogs attack Pepito.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that kids will love the energetic artwork and the spunky heroine of this adventurous tale.
Is It Any Good?
Bemelmans skillfully places every adventure within a familiar routine. The girls leave the house at half past nine, and after some wild adventure, they are back at the table or tucked into bed. Children love to recite the beginning, "In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines ...," and the reassuring ending, "Thank the Lord you are well! And now go to sleep," said Miss Clavel."
A careful reader of Bemelmans will notice, however, that his rhyme and rhythm were often strained. The writing in the original story, "Madeline," is by far the best: It's briskly paced without any rough spots. In later stories, the rhyme is forced in a number of places, as in Madeline and the Gypsies, where Miss Clavel says, "Here is a freshly laundered shirty / It's better to be clean than dirty." But awkward rhymes are forgiven when you focus on Bemelmans's skill as an artist. His landscapes, with broad strokes and ornate details, capture the city so well. You can almost feel the rain in front of Notre Dame.
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