Went to a very fun author event last night. John Bemelmans Marciano, grandson of Ludwig Bemelmans (author of the original Madeline books) was visiting with his new children’s book.
First, I should say that any time I hear of a son or grandson picking up the work of their family and finishing it…. I get leery. I think “Oh it won’t be as good” as the original and I even think the family member might be “riding the coattails” a bit.
Let me say then what a joyful surprise Mr. Marciano has been. He has been completely opposite of my fears. In other words: not only he is a talented illustrator and author in his own right, but he seems to have that unique sense of humor that the senior Bemelmans inserted into the Madeline books.
Mr. Marciano was funny and charming as well, as he read from his new book (the first new Madeline book in 50 years!) Madeline and the Cats of Rome. If you’re a Madeline fan you won’t be disappointed in this story. It has all the great elements of a Madeline story: some mischief, Madeline’s precociousness, and Miss Clavel’s level head. It’s lovely.
And getting to hear Mr. Marciano was an absolute thrill. He had the kids sit down in front as he read and showed them pictures. He also talked a bit about his grandfather which I found very interesting. Believe me, folks, this isn’t a guy just making a buck off of his grandfather. He seems to have the humor and passion that Ludwig did. (Can you tell I’m a huge fan?)
They also gave away small Madeline dolls at the event, and wouldn’t you know it my husband got one first (much to the giggles of most of the little girls and ladies there) and then I actually got one, too. I threw my name back in, of course, since I already had one I wanted someone else to win, too. (Because I suspected my hubby would give me the Madeline doll he had won. Wonder how I guessed that?)
Let me tell you about the funny little thing we had happen to us as we headed out for the book signing. We ran out immediately after work, and grabbed Mr. Marciano’s previous book (Madeline Says Merci) and the one Ludwig started and Marciano finished (Madeline in America).
The one I really wanted Mr. Marciano to sign was Madeline in America. As we grabbed it, my husband noticed that our dog had chewed the edge of it! Through the book cover and straight into the binding. And it’s a first edition!
My hubby and I were both completely bummed. We had a glimmer of hope in the thought that perhaps the bookstore would have another first edition of Madeline in America that we could buy there. (Dare we hope for such a thing?)
Turns out the bookstore had all of Mr. Marciano’s books EXCEPT Madeline in America. We were totally bummed and ended up spilling our whole sad little tale to the poor bookstore clerk. We then purchased his new book and sat down to wait for the author.
I should also tell you, that our five-month very naughty puppy is named Genevieve, after Madeline’s doggie.
As we waited, we started to see the humor in having a dog named after a Madeline character eat said Madeline book. (We had to diffuse our sadness somehow.) Now, if she’d have eaten Madeline’s Rescue (where Genevieve first appears) that would have been far more ironic. (At least in my eyes.)
Still, we consoled ourselves with the coincidence, and then my hubby said “Let’s have the author make out the book to Genevieve. Since she ate the darn thing it seems fitting.”
We did. We even told Mr. Marciano about what happened, and he chatted with us about our half-poodle, half-schauzer (thus, a schnoodle) doggie.
His inscription on the book is:
I see you have enjoyed my book.”
So now our Genevieve’s naughty handiwork has become a funny story in our household. (And wouldn’t Ludwig Bemelmans be amused at that!)