A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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
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.