Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Madeline and Stuart Little at the Luxembourg Gardens of Paris

While strolling the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris today, I was thinking about the children's book Madeline and some of the characters...

First, there is Madeline, the smallest girl in her class, who just had her appendix removed, and even though she is not "considered" tough and brave, we know the real truth.  She's a redhead too and eight years old.

Madeline is tormented by this awful bully Pepito, who is the son of a Spanish something-or-other...until she confronts him and makes him take off his "ugly hat" and after that he is much nicer.

Their teacher is Miss Clavel, who looks like a nun but acts more like a nurse.  She is always trying to keep the young heroine in yellow rain coat OUT of trouble.

The reason I was thinking about Madeline is because of these tiny toy sailboats and Stuart Little, who took part in a great race across the pond at Central Park, a story I read with a flashlight under my bed covers as a boy.

I know... Madeline was written by Ludwig Bemelmans, an Austrian writer in 1939... and Stuart Little was penned by E.B. White, an American, in 1945... but still the two stories have always had this fascination with me.

Both about these small children that make it in the world despite having such odds against them.

As I walked around the Luxembourg Gardens today and felt the sunshine on my face and watched the sailboats pass and the men on the courts smashing balls back and forth and the benches full of people in conversation while the dark story rain clouds rolled in... well, I thought about books I read as a child and held on.

You never meet characters like that after you grow up... it's the ones we met as children that we carry with us forever. I like that.  I know you do too.

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