Madeline (book)
Madeline 1939 cover
Author Ludwig Bemelmans
Illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans
Publication date 1939
ISBN 0670445800
Publication Order
Preceded by
The Golden Basket
Followed by
Madeline's Rescue

Madeline is a 1939 book written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans, the first in the book series, which inspired the Madeline media franchise. It is considered one of the major classics of children's literature.

The story is set in Catholic boarding school in Paris, France. The opening rhyming sentences were repeated at the start of the subsequent books in the series:

In an old house in Paris
That was covered in vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.


Madeline is the smallest of the girls. She is seven years old, and the only redhead. She is the bravest and most daring of the girls, flaunting at "the tiger in the zoo" and giving Miss Clavel a headache as she goes around the city doing all sorts of antics.

One night, Miss Clavel wakes up, sensing something wrong. Doctor Cohn is called, and takes Madeline to the hospital because she has a ruptured appendix. Hours later, Madeline finds herself recuperating. She is greeted by her classmates and Miss Clavel, who give her flowers, and a doll house from her Papa. Madeline's classmates and Miss Clavel go home, but Miss Clavel wakes up again, to find the other little girls wailing, demanding to "have their appendix out too". Miss Clavel assures them that they're all well, and calls on them to go to sleep.


  • Despite making her debut appearance in this book, Madeline and the rest of the class actually made a cameo appearance in The Golden Basket, two years before the original book was published.