Madeline in London

Book review by
Jennifer Gennari, Common Sense Media
Madeline in London Book Poster Image
Slow pace, but kids like the pageantry.

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

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pepito's mother says he can't keep his birthday gift from Madeline and the girls, a horse that causes considerable mischief.

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What's the story?

Pepito pines away for his Madeline and his other schoolgirl friends when his family moves to London. To cheer him up and to celebrate his birthday, Madeline and the gang travel to London. Their gift, a horse formerly with the Royal Guard, immediately takes off, bearing Pepito and Madeline into a royal parade.

When the two children are reunited with Miss Clavel, they forget to feed the horse, and in the morning he is sick from eating roses and green apples from the garden. Guess who gets to keep the horse in the end?

Is it any good?

Children will like the pageantry of this story, but the pace is slow. Author/illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans has fun painting a whole new set of architectural landmarks. The Tower of London is in the background, and children will like to pick out Madeline and Pepito among the rows and rows of Beefeaters in front of Windsor Castle.

As in other Madeline tales, the poem contains a few rough spots and forced rhymes. Bemelmans mentions crumpets out of the blue just because the word rhymes with trumpets, for example. Also, the solution to the horse's naughtiness for eating in the garden is to let Madeline, rather than Pepito, keep the horse, which might strike listeners as odd.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the choice of a horse as a gift for Pepito. Why did they think a horse would be a good present? Why did it turn out to be not a very good present? Why did the horse eat the garden? Was it the horse's fault?

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