In an old house in Paris… (story analysis)

“In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines” is the first line to the children’s book “Madeline” by Ludwig Bemelmans. I decided to write my story analysis post on the story because I share the same name with the title character! (As you may have seen through my profile pictures on my social media platforms). I wasn’t named after the book, but growing up I did have a lot of the books, dolls and toys that went along with the series!

If you would like to watch the story, there is a nice read aloud video on YouTube that I found.


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I stumbled upon an article about the Madeline books by the Guardian, “Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans – bright mischief, quiet melancholy”. This article was really interesting and it connected Madeline’s boarding school to a similar experience of the Bemelmans. It also highlighted how there are some sad themes in the story as well. 

For example, when Madeline gets her appendix out it is a happy experience because of the toys from her father. He doesn’t come see her but rather sends gifts. Then at the end of the story all the other girls are upset because they want gifts for getting their appendix out too. I think this shows a sad emphasis on materialism rather than direct emotional support and shows the loneliness that comes with an absent parent.

The story is told beautifully through a lyrical rhyme and rhythm. I believe this story is best read aloud (perfect for children) due to the rhymes.  Following a mainly linear path, the reader is taken through the daily routine of Madeline and the other school girls. The illustrations in the beginning of the book highlight the symmetry and structure of the girl’s routine. However, the two straight lines become uneven as the plot progresses and Madeline is in the hospital.

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The story ends with the line “and that’s all there is, there isn’t anymore.” This finishes the story, and completes the vertical path of the storyline (background, problem, solution, ending).

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