Madeline in America and Other Holiday Tales

Book review by
Jennifer Gennari, Common Sense Media
Madeline in America and Other Holiday Tales Book Poster Image
Cute, but Madeline appears in only one story.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids learn about certain stereotypical aspects of Texas life, from cowboys and oil wells to Neiman Marcus.

Positive Messages

Be gracious when you receive a great gift, and be curious about and embrace other cultures.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Madeline is excited to learn about a new culture and place very different from her home in Paris.


Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Madeline appears in only one of the adventures, which may disappoint fans. Artist and writer John Bemelmans Marciano discovered the manuscript and pencil sketches for the "Madeline in America" story in his grandfather's files. So it is in keeping with the intention of Madeline creator Ludwig Bemelmans, and a thrill for Madeline fans to have a "new" Madeline book to read.

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What's the story?

MADELINE IN AMERICA features narratives and some art by Ludwig Bemelmans and many illustrations by his grandson, John Bemelmans Marciano. In \"Madeline in Texas,\" Miss Clavel and the girls travel to collect Madeline's inheritance from her great-grandfather.

They visit a ranch, oil wells, and the Neiman Marcus department store, of which Madeline will be part owner. In the end, we learn that her great-grandfather had the wisdom to dictate that she return to school until age 21.

\"The Count and the Cobbler\" is a parable about a poor cobbler whose baby tricks him into giving his children shoes for Christmas. And \"Sunshine,\" set in New York City, is about a landlord who seeks a quiet tenant. Instead, he gets a music teacher who he struggles to evict. In the end, on Christmas Eve, he turns over a new leaf. This volume also includes Christmas memories by Ludwig Bemelmans's daughter and identification of the landmarks featured in the illustrations.

Is it any good?

"Madeline in Texas" is the best of the three stories for Madeline fans; it's the only story in which the beloved heroine appears. Author Ludwig Bemelmans and his co-author/grandson make Texas as interesting as Paris -- the Texas Ranger and Davie Crockett are a hoot! John Bemelmans Marciano's paintings have his grandfather's energetic style: The two-page spread of Madeline on horseback, racing away from stampeding cattle, bursts off its bright yellow background.

Without Madeline, the story in "Sunshine" bumps and twists around umbrellas and New York landmarks. "The Count and the Cobbler" is a sweet, short tale without Bemelmans' trademark two-page spreads. It lacks the depth of plot needed for a long story. In general, this volume falls short of what readers expect from the Madeline series.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Madeline's experience in Texas is different from her more familiar setting in France. How does her inheritance affect her?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love holiday stories

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