Cooking & Eating, Reading & Writing

It’s Been Une Semaine Francaise.

img_0794I guess it started with Boeuf Bourguignon: I started thinking about Julia Child and The French Chef and how she always hated that title because she wasn’t French or a chef, and it got me thinking about her memoir, My Life in France, and how I’d like to have a life in France, even a brief one (which I guess you could say I have–I’ve spent a cumulative six or seven days in Paris, spread over several trips to Europe), and how if that’s ever going to happen I’ll have to improve my French, so I started going through my French texts and dictionaries, which made me remember this really great book I read a few years back, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, which I then began rereading, and in reading the first few chapters I was reminded of one of my all-time favorite films, Amélie, which of course I had to watch, and on top of that the boy has been requesting multiple readings of the Madeline books per day, as well as the bilingual picture books I bought for the girl (whose favorite game, by the way, is to build stacks of blocks and then topple them, saying “Crash!” with all the excitement she can muster–blocks that have French vocabulary on them, because Santa Claus really wanted her to learn a second language) and, well, it seems I’ve thought about the French language and culture every day this week.

C’est bon, hein?

Friends & Family, Reading & Writing

Twelve Little Girls in Two Straight Lines


Did you read the Madeline books as a kid? I have Madeline and the Bad Hat and Madeline in London in my collection, and I recently bought the kids a board book copy of the original Madeline, which I know I read as a kid but I guess I didn’t own it because it wasn’t among the stacks and stacks of books I brought home from my parents’ house after the boy was born.

For three and a half years, I waited for him to be interested in those books. I kept offering, but he’d snub them–mostly for Dr. Seuss or the Berenstain Bears. Around age three, he added Babar Learns to Cook and Babar Saves the Day to the rotation, and later Babar and his Children, which is longer, but still no Madeline. I’d pretty much given up on it. And then a couple weeks ago, when I asked what I should read him at bedtime, he brought me Madeline in London. To say I was excited would be an understatement.

I have always loved the illustrations in these books, and the use of color. No surprise, given that Ludwig Bemelmans considered himself an artist-illustrator more than a writer. I loved the towering and sweet-natured Miss Clavel. I loved the beautiful house all covered in vines, and the way they lived their whole lives in two straight lines. And of course, I loved Madeline. And I’m so glad that my son is starting to love Madeline, too.

Which was your favorite Madeline book? What other favorites did you have as a kid, and which are/were you most excited to share with your children?