Madeline – 1940 Caldecott Honor Book

Madeline – 1940 Caldecott Honor Book

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans tells of a little French girl who lives in a boarding house with eleven other girls and their caregiver.  The ever-attentive Ms. Clavel awakens to realize that something is wrong.  Madeline, who has been crying, is whisked away to have an appendectomy.  The other little girls visit her lavish hospital room and decide that they want to be in the hospital, too.  While this story may sound silly, the rhyming verses and classic illustrations make this book a joy to read over and over.  Subsequent books in this series are equally enchanting and allow the reader to get to know Madeline and her companions further.

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – The almost impressionistic illustrations are full of detail, yet not cluttered.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – With a high picture-to-word ratio, I feel like I am turning pages constantly, and must read the story slowly to be able to take it all in, but every scene is pictured in detail.

3.“Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.” – The impressionistic-like drawings and paintings allow the reader to sense the French setting for this story.  I cannot help but hear a French accent as I read this book.

4.“Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – Once again, the “Frenchness” of the illustrations, which include scenes of famous Parisian landmarks, is clear throughout the book.  The characters are less detailed, but given that they are introduced as 12 little girls in 2 rows, it seems appropriate for them to be less defined.

5.“Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My girls love this book and have asked to check it out from the library several times.  While the scenes of Paris are lost on them (and probably me for the most part!), I hope they will remember these pictures, as they may encounter them in the future.


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Filed under Caldecott Medal Winners, Recommended Reads

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