The adventurous pace of the Madeline series begins afresh, after a half-century hiatus, with Madeline and the Cats of Rome, a book which will delight children and adult Madeline fans of all ages.
Madeline’s story first appeared in the 1930s. The story continued into the 1950s and 1960s. Interest jump-started in the 1980s and 1990s with two stories written by Madeline’s creator and published posthumously. The author’s grandson therefore revived the series in the twenty-first century.
Austrian-born Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1962) became a U.S. citizen and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery because of his service in World War I. He was delighted to combine his love for drawing and writing in a series honoring his maternal French ancestry. He wrote seven books about Madeline:
- Madeline (1939),
- Madeline’s Rescue (1953),
- Madeline and the Bad Hat (1956),
- Madeline and the Gypsies (1959),
- Madeline in London (1961),
- Madeline’s Christmas (1985), and
- Madeline in America and Other Holiday Tales (1999).
Dreary snow in Paris, spring warmth in Rome, and a stolen camera figure in Madeline and the Cats of Rome, written and illustrated by John Bemelmans Marciano and published by Viking in 2008. New Jersey native John Bemelmans Marciano (born 1970) is the author of
- Madeline Says Merci (2001),
- Madeline Loves Animals (2005), and
- Madeline at the White House (2011).
He shares his Brooklyn residence with wife and opera/theater set designer Andromache Chalfant (born 1972) and daughter Galatea (born 2009).
Madeline and the Cats of Rome begins with Miss Clavel and her 12 schoolgirls enduring wintry Parisian weather. Miss Clavel decides that everyone will be happier further south. She selects Rome as the get-away destination.
Miss Clavel’s 12 charges enjoy Rome’s sights. What is there not to like about warm Rome? Many group photos will recall Rome’s historic beauty upon return to Paris.
But picture-taking becomes impossible when a girl steals the group’s camera. Madeline and her dog Genevieve give chase. Just when the trail grows cold, Madeleine and Genevieve track Caterina the thief into a cat-filled house.
Madeline quickly becomes friends with Caterina. But the friendship is jeopardized when Caterina insists that theft is justified in feeding orphans and stray cats. The two girls manage to repair their friendship, respect right and wrong, and save stray cats from homelessness and starvation.
Madeline and the Cats of Rome is an amusing adventure story with humorous poetry and whimsical watercolors. Children and Madeline fans of all ages will enjoy the return of their favorite red-headed little orphan girl.