Madeline and the Gypsies

by Ludwig Bemelmans

Paper Book, 1959



Call number




New York Puffin 1959.


Pepito, son of the Spanish Ambassador, and Madeline, rescued by gypsies during a storm, travel and perform with their wandering friends until they again find Miss Clavel.

User reviews

LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Madeline and Pepito find themselves left behind when Miss Clavel and her class visit the local carnival one day, and are taken in by the gypsies, who feed them strong drugs and incorporate them into their circus act. As Miss Clavel agonizes about their fate, the two friends lead a carefree,
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adventure-filled life, one with few annoying chores or obligations - no brushing of teeth! no going to bed on time! - and plenty of fun. Every new experience palls eventually, however, and the two eventually contact Miss Clavel, who immediately sets out to collect them. The gypsy mother, on the other hand, being determined to keep them, decides to disguise them (together) as a lion...

I sometimes find it a little difficult to credit that, although other maliciously destructive myths about various racial, ethnic and religious minorities - Jews kill Christian babies (the Blood Libel) in esoteric blood rites! Africans are black because they are the descendents of Ham (the Curse of Ham), and naturally fit for slavery! - have been rejected, the idea of Gypsies (Romani) as dirty, carefree vagrants who kidnap non-Rom children persists as an "entertaining" trope in our literature, with few questions asked. I feel certain that, if a children's picture-book promoted either of the other two ideas mentioned above, there would be an instant outcry. Here, however, reviewers speak of the "charm" of the artwork, and the "fun" of the story. Absolute Piffle! Leaving aside the lunacy of the stereotype itself - how and why a group of people who, throughout their long and troubled history in Europe, in which they have variously been enslaved, forbidden from owning land or participating in specific professions, and deliberately targeted for extermination in the Nazi Final Solution, would have the desire (let alone the means) to take on other people's children, has never been clear to me - and ignoring all ethical concerns, Madeline and the Gypsies is just a poor story, with a clunky, awkward text (as with its predecessors, I found many of the rhymes here rather forced, and the rhythm somewhat off), and rather drab artwork.

Although I'm not really a fan of the Madeline books, this is the first one I've actively disliked. Utter dreck.
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LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
Madeline and Pepito get left behind on the ferris wheel when a sudden storm comes in. Luckily gypsies help Madeline down, and adopt her and Pepito. They have a wonderful time learning to tumble and skipping school, but Miss Clavel is worried sick, and when she finds them, she brings them home right
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away, relieved.
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LibraryThing member crashingwaves38
I loved this book! It went so many different places and did so many different things. It was just a fun book to read.
LibraryThing member paroof
Madeline and Pepito are left behind at the gypsy carnival/circus and end up living with the gypsies for a while. A fun fantasy for children and all turns out well. Another classic book by Ludwit Bemelman that will definitely delight any fan of Madeline and recruit new fans as well. Good for girls
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or boys.
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LibraryThing member ckarmstr1
Pepito invites the girls to a Gypsy Carnival that is in town. A rainstorm puts the girls' fun to an end, and they have to go back home. Madeline and Pepito get left behind on top of the Ferris Wheel. The gypsies get them off the Ferris Wheel and kidnap them to Fountainblue. When the gypsies get
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word that Miss Clavel is coming to rescue the children, they sew the kids in a lion suit so Miss Clavel can't find them. Miss Clavel does find them, however, and takes them home! This books shows the love an adult has for a child (or children) and how a loving adult will do anything for that child.
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LibraryThing member jebass
One of the many books following the adventures of Madeline, the smallest of twelve little girls under the instruction of Miss Clavel, a nun who runs their boarding school. In this book, Madeline and the neighbor boy, Pepito (son to the Spanish ambassador) get caught at the top of a Carnival's
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ferris wheel in inclement weather. Left alone and forgotten after the carnival closes, they are helped down from the ferris wheel by traveling Gypsy performers. Madeline and Pepito travel with the Carnival; there is no school, they do what they please, and learn the art of performance. When they send word to a distraught Miss Clavel to let her know they are safe, Miss Clavel sets out to search again for the children with renewed hope. Her search is hindered when the Gypsy mother disguises the two children, for whom she has developed affection, in a lion's suit. The children find their way back to the carnival, as a lion, in time to perform; and find sitting in the front row, Miss Clavel and the rest of the girls. The group is reunited, and Madeline returns with the girls, happy to be home again at last.

This is another book that serves best as a basis for discussion about the elements of literature and creative writing. Ludwig Bemelmans has created a very famous character with Madeline, and the story of her adventures are familiar to children around the world. Madeline was a character in a book, then a cartoon, and found her way into a full-length feature film. Madeline is a testament to Ludwig Bemelman's ability to create lovable, memorable characters within entertaining, imaginative storytelling. Students could be challenged to brainstorm and create their own "memorable character," to come up with possible "adventures" for their character, and explore the various ways they could use those "adventures" to develop a character within a story.
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LibraryThing member rrossi1
In this story, Madeline and the rest of the girls visit a Gypsy carnival. A storm hits, and the girls leave, but of course, Madeline is missing, along with Pepito, who lives next door to the girls. They were left on top of the ferris wheel in a thunderstorm, so the Gypsy mama had them taken down,
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and took them in. They were then taught how to be carnival Gypsies. Miss Clavel went to retrieve Madeline and Pepito when she received a post card from them. The Gypsy mama didn't like that too much, so she sewed the two children into a lion costume so they wouldn't be recognized. In the end, Miss Clavel rescues the both of them, and all is well.
This book is simply a tale of Madeline's accidental troublemaking, like the rest of the books in the series, but I think there is a lesson to be learned as well. Children getting to do every single thing they want can get old when the frightening feelings of homesickness and worry set in.
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LibraryThing member Kesterbird
Racial stereotypes and slurs aside, it's a great book
LibraryThing member DKnight0918
Cute book.
LibraryThing member LibrarianRyan
I love Madeline books. But this Madeline has ended up on the Banned Book list, and I understand why. Although it was originally written in 1956/57, racial bias and stereotyping is alive and well. The way the author describes the “gypsies” is harmful stereotyping. I would have thought that
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although a classic, the publishing house might have tried to clean things up, or change it to remove parts like sewing the kids in lion pelts to hide them from their teacher (in effect stealing the children) would have been redone, but I cannot find that to be true. So, while I love Madeline, I think this book can stay in the catacombs from which it came.
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Original publication date



0140502610 / 9780140502619

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