Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Awesome Female Role Models: Madeline

"In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines..."

Hearing the first sentence of the classic book series brings to mind images of Paris, yellow hats, a tall nun, and little girls running around a large house.

And of course - the smallest one - Madeline.

I think I connected with Madeline when I was a kid for a few reasons. 

1) She was the smallest one. If anyone understands being the smallest one, it's me.

2) In her first book, Madeline goes to the hospital. If anyone understands going to the hospital as a child and having scars to show off after surgery, it's me.

3) She has a dog. 

4) She went on awesome adventures and made friends along the way.

Clearly, Madeline was awesome.

We had a big book of Madeline stories. It looked like this:
All of them were in one place and I could read them to my heart's content. Then when there were movies (or TV show? I can't remember...) involved, of course my sister and I ate them up. But who wouldn't love this little girl?

Reasons why Madeline is awesome:
  • One of her most famous characteristics is that Madeline is brave. Nothing scares her! When the others are cowering in the corner, Madeline goes right up to the tiger and says "poo poo." She's not afraid to go against the mold and do something a bit more adventurous. 
  • She doesn't care that she's the smallest of the twelve girls in their old house. Nothing holds her back, and in fact, it probably motivates her to do more. 
  • Madeline isn't afraid to say what's on her mind. When Pepito (the bad hat) moves in next door, she puts him in his place! She doesn't give him excuses for his bad behavior and tells it to him straight.
  • But on another note, Madeline also forgives. At the end of the story when Pepito gets hurt, he apologizes for everything that he's done. Madeline doesn't hold it against him and forgives him. Pepito then becomes one of her best friends and goes on adventures with her. 
  • Madeline explores new places. Granted - a lot of this is thanks to Ms. Clavel who takes her girls all over the place. But I love that while Madeline has a home to go to, she also gets the chance to see new things, new places, and meet new people.
  • She's empathetic. I can't tell you how many times in these books something sad happens to someone else, and Madeline and the girls are crying along with them!
  • She makes the best out of a bad situation. She has to get her appendix taken out, but has fun looking at the flowers, imagining animals on the walls, and showing off her new scar. When she is stuck with the gypsies, she just becomes a little acrobat right along with them! All of the girls (and Ms. Clavel) are sick at Christmas- Madeline has no problem taking care of all of them!
  • She knows the importance of home. When she's with the gypsies, Madeline (and Pepito!) enjoys it for a while. But eventually, she knows that she misses Ms. Clavel and the other girls, and wants to return home.
  • Madeline is helpful. She takes care of her friends, as well as strangers, just because they need help.
  • She's easy to relate to. While  not all of us go on magic carpet rides at Christmas, live in an old house in Paris, or run off with the circus, generally the stories and themes are all ones that kids can relate to. I think that's why people have loved her for so long.

Some things to look out for:

  • She likes to scare Ms. Clavel (her teacher) a lot. Don't make it a point to scare the adults in your life. 
  • She also doesn't always listen.
  • While in the case of Madeline's Christmas, everything works out when she helps the strange man selling rugs at the door. For the rest of us - everything may not turn out so wonderful and magical.


"Poo, poo."

"Voila! My scar!"

"We love our bread, we love our butter, but most of all, we love each other."

"I'm Madeline, I'm Madeline, I'm not afraid at all. I'm Madeline, I'm Madeline I'm bravest of all!"

OK... I know there are probably more quotes than that, but I don't have any copies of the books right now or access to the TV episodes! (So sad!)

Did you read Madeline as a kid? Did you love her and her adventures too?


  1. I loved reading Madeline as a kid! I also read this series to my first graders :-) I loved your analysis of this wonderful character!!

  2. Love Madeline! I don't think I had the books (which is very surprising), but I definitely remember the TV show. Love her.

    Also, Amelia Bedelia. For some reason this post reminded me of her too!


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