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

If you've walked through a high school in any North American city, and you've happened past the Foreign Language department, where they're learning to count and say things like "Delighted to meet you! May I have some more ham?" you've no doubt seen a small poster, in blues and greens, of little girls in little yellow raincoats and little yellow hats.

The smallest one was Madeline.

Madeline is a little French orphan and the basis for a market of books, cartoons, television shows and movies, including a major motion picture in 1998. The book, originally written in 1939 by Ludwig Bemelmans, appeals to children (and French teachers alike) because the author weaves in a small amount of French. Bemelmans based the books on stories his mother, Madeline, had told him about her childhood in a Catholic orphanage.

After writing the first in 1939, Ludwig Bemelmans receveived the Caldecott Medal's honorable mention. He went on to write five Madeline sequels, including Madeline and the Bad Hat, 1954's Caldecott winning Madeline's Rescue, Madeline and the Gypsies, Madeline in London, and Madeline's Christmas. The books have sold millions of copies and have been translated into French, Spanish, and other languages worldwide.

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