Madeline and the Cats of Rome

Fans of Madeline have cause for rejoicing. A new book has arrived--Madeline and the Cats of Rome (2008, Viking Juvenile, 48 pp), by John Bemelmans Marciano. He is the grandson of Ludwig Bemelmans, author of the original Madeline books, and carefully studied the art and words of his grandfather in creating his own.

It works! Madeline and the Cats of Rome is a book that fans of the series and new friends of Madeline should both enjoy.

In this story, Madeline, the other 11 girls, Miss Clavel, and their faithful hound Genevieve, exchange cold and rainy Paris for springtime in Rome (lucky them!). All goes well, as they enjoy the sights, until an urchin makes off with Miss Clavel's camera. Madeline and Genevieve chase after her, into the dark side of the city. At last they catch the thief, inside an abandoned house, filled with hundreds of stray cats...

It is up to Madeline to find a way to help the poor cats without resorting to crime, and she comes through triumphantly!

The artwork is close enough to the originals so as not to disturb (too much) the delicate sensibilities of avid fans (that would be me), and with sufficient charm of its own to entertain young readers who aren't quite sure who Madeline is (my boys). And the pictures are a nice introduction to the tourist attractions (not quite as glorious as the tour of France presented in Madeline and the Gypsies, and I with that this one, like that one, identified what we're seeing, but it's still nice).

The words with which this story is told are spot on, continuity-wise. It's that same sort of verse that is used in the earlier books--kind of awkward in places but still caries the adventure on swimmingly.

There was only one thing missing--Miss Clavel does not get a chance to run "fast and faster, to the scene of the disaster."

John Bemelmans Marciano is also the author of Bemelmans: The Life and Art of Madeline's Creator. He also, back in completed his grandfather's book Madeline in America, and Other Holiday Tales (1999), which started, surprisingly, as "Madeline's Christmas in Texas" -- you can learn more about that in this interview, and a few years later, completed Madeline Says Merci (2001), and, on his own, wrote Madeline Loves Animals (2005), for younger children.

Here's another review, from The Children's Book Review.


  1. I just read Madeline and the Cats of Rome to Milly; we both liked it, even though I stumbled over the lines more often than usual. Still, I couldn't resist the combination of Madeline and Rome!

  2. Thanks for the link!


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