Madeline and the Bad Hat

Common Sense Media says

A little heavy-handed, but still a charming book.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Pepito's teasing borders on cruelty.

Violence & scariness

Chickens are guillotined. Dogs attack Pepito.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this lesson in decent behavior may not entertain young readers. But the art is rich with detail and excitement, and the verse is witty.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

The Spanish ambassador moves in next door, and Madeline soon discovers that Pepito, his son, is a bad boy. Gradually, Pepito's pranks escalate, but despite the intensity of his teasing behavior, Pepito eventually learns his lesson. Ludwig Bemelmans's illustrations of Paris life, particularly a market scene, are as charming as ever.

Is it any good?


To make the point that Pepito is a bad hat, Bemelmans goes overboard, progressing from standard mischief to downright cruelty. The most offensive verse revolves around Pepito's creation: a guillotine. Pepito, the author writes, "was unmoved by the last look / the frightened chickens gave the cook."

Despite the intensity of Pepito's bad behavior, the message is clear: He has to change if he wants Madeline and the other girls to play with him. Children will recognize all of Pepito's attempts to make friends, including showing off, and the illustration of the changed Pepito and the girls setting free birds, butterflies, and other animals is heartwarming.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about ways to go about making new friends. Do you change your behavior to impress them or be more like them? Or is it better to just be yourself?

Book details

Author:Ludwig Bemelmans
Illustrator:Ludwig Bemelmans
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Penguin Group
Publication date:March 31, 1957
Number of pages:64
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7

This review of Madeline and the Bad Hat was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 17 year old Written bywww.rascallywes... February 15, 2011
hate it nearing the end when he learns his lesson how can he see with one eye and or talk to madeline through the bandages
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models
Parent of a 1, 4, and 7 year old Written byjengrammer June 3, 2009

Not for sensitive children or for children you don't wish to desensitize

I love the Madeline books as do my daughters but I was appalled at this one. We skipped reading it because I think a book for young children shouldn't show a little boy cutting off chicken's heads to be mean. I would not read it to young children. The others in the series are excellent, however
Teen, 14 years old Written by96grlpowrCE January 29, 2010

Adored this when I was younger...

I loved this book when I was little. Actually, I loved the video even more... I still listen to some of the songs from it these days. :S
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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