Saturday, February 28, 2009

I Think I Love The Bad Hat.

Ludwig Bemelmans, Viking Press, 1956

Like many children's book characters (Paddington Bear, Winnie the Pooh, Eloise, Olivia and so forth) Madeline is recognizable, memorable and dear. Bemelmans' illustrations (his full color ones in particular) are fantastic and they create a Paris I long to visit.

In this episode a fine and dignified Spanish ambassador moves next door and "his excellency" has a boy who terrorizes the little girls. He seems so sweet when the adults are around but when no one is looking he commits multiple terrifying acts... with a sling shot, while ice skating, with cruelty to cats, one in which he creates a guillotine.

The cat episode ends badly for poor Pepito, and it's up to Miss Clavel to rescue him. The girls visit him in the hospital and Madeline quite simply tells him he got what he deserved. He promises to change his wayward ways and "the barbarian becomes a vegetarian."

Filled with humorous images and the creative antics of a naughty boy, Madeline and the Bad Hat is sure to delight.

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