"That’s all there is, there isn’t any more!"
In an old house in Paris, all covered in vines
lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.
The smallest one was Madeline.
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be Madeline. I was convinced that we had plenty in common – sure, I couldn’t speak French, I didn’t attend boarding school in Paris, and I wasn’t friends with the Spanish Ambassador’s son, but I was quite short.
I’ve since grown up [both in age and stature], and have learnt the French language along the way. I’ve also discovered a few startling things about Madeline: Luwig Bemelmans, creator of the series, was not in fact French [he’s an Austrian-born American], and despite having conducted numerous searches through many Parisian arrondissements, I’ve never been able to find a vine-covered house resembling that from either the books or television show. I’m beginning to think that it may not actually exist.
Madeline may be nothing more than a work of fiction, however it did teach me many valuable lessons throughout my childhood. I learnt that you didn’t need to be big in order to be tough, and that if you were scared of the tiger in the zoo, you just needed to say “Pooh, pooh” [although, to be honest, I’m not really sure if that would achieve much]. At first Pepito seemed like a bad hat, but Madeline [and I] soon discovered that he was just lonely. Madeline never let mean people like Lord Cookooface get her down. When she had her appendix out, she didn’t get upset; she pranced about singing “Voilà, my scar!”
Miss Clavel did worry about her at times, running frantically around the house singing “Something is not right, something is quite wrong.” But while Madeline wasn’t always the most obedient of children, she was brave and fiercely loyal to her friends [and her dog – we can’t forget Genevieve]. You could even consider her to be a bit of a feminist icon.
I no longer spend my afternoons in front of the television, following the adventures of those twelve little girls in two straight lines, but I’ll forever appreciate the impact that they’ve had on my life.
That’s all there is, there isn’t any more.