Madeline and the Bad Hat

Book review by
Jennifer Gennari, Common Sense Media
Madeline and the Bad Hat Book Poster Image
A little heavy-handed, but still a charming book.

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 3+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Pepito's teasing borders on cruelty.

Violence & Scariness

Chickens are guillotined. Dogs attack Pepito.


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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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
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 sho... Continue reading
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'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.

Talk to your kids 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

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