Monday, March 14, 2011

Quickie Review - "Madeline at the White House"

In Madeline at the White House, John Bemelmans Marciano works off an idea his grandfather, the great Lugwig Bemelmans, had about sending the titular heroine to the white house to visit with the First Daughter.  In this case, Madeline and all of Miss Clavel's girl come to visit Miss Penelope Randall, nicknamed Candle because of a shock of hair that sticks up, who was "as lonely a girl as there can be".  She never gets to see her father, is the only girl at her White House school and has a Secret Service agent that "made sure she never left the grounds".  If ever a girl needed Madeline, it's Candle.  The girls hunt eggs and play games at the White House Easter celebration, and Madeline and Candle stay up all night together and have "a lark".  Finally the girls must part, and Madeline and all Miss Clavel's girls return home. 

Marciano doesn't have quite the touch his grandfather had.  The rhymes don't always land, and the cadence wavers.  But the art is still charming and warm, and Madeline's joy is infectious.  The magical fantasy element introduced towards the end is beautifully illustrated, but feels mildly out of place.  All in all, the text could have been neatened up, but this is a nice entry into the Madeline family of stories.

Madeline at the White House by John Bemelmans Marciano
2011, Viking
Library copy

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