Le Grand Field Trip: Madeline at the White House by John Bemelmans Marciano
AT AN OLD HOUSE IN WASHINGTON, D. C.
LIVED AS LONELY A GIRL AS THERE COULD BE.
HER NAME WAS MISS PENELOPE RANDALL,
BUT EVERYOLNE ALWAYS CALLED HER CANDLE.
Nicknamed Candle for her flame like red cowlick, this President's daughter finds life at the White House quite dreary: Her dad the President is too harried even to keep his appointments to play with her, and at the White House school she is literally in a class by herself. And then her mom schedules a junket over Easter. But luckily, The First Lady has French connections, one fortunately with someone at an old house in Paris that is covered with vines. And, Voila!--the students of a famous, fashionable French girls' school flies in for a fortuitous field trip just in time to save Candle from a lonely holiday.
THEIR PLANE GETS IN AT HALF PAST NINE.
THE SMALLEST ONE IS MADELINE.
With the famous French redhead and America's carrot top First Daughter, the fun never stops. Even Miss Clavell cannot keep the twelve little girls in two straight lines at the big White House Egg Roll on the south lawn, and Candle, Madeline, and the rest fill their tummies on the treats at the fete. Then it's bedtime for the girls. But when Miss Clavell turns out the light, the girls are up and off on their finest adventure. Conjuring up her magician friend, Madeline persuades the dutiful Candle to sneak out for a magic carpet ride around Washington, D.C., hitting all the sights from the sky--the Capitol, the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, and the Washington Monument, all by the light of the starry heavens.
Then with many boo-hoo-hoos from the little girls, the new friends depart for their plane back to Paris with many hugs and promises, as the ever-firm Miss Clavell reminds them that
TO SAY GOODBYE IS ALWAYS SAD.
BUT COMING HOME IS NEVER BAD.
For grownups, who can't remember a time when the Madeline books were not there, seeing those twelve little girls, togged in their matching yellow coats and beribboned hats peering through the iron fence at the White House and its fountain is a happy sight. John Bemelmans Marciano's illustrations for his latest, Madeline at the White House (Viking, 2011) closely approximate those of his grandfather Ludwig Bemelmans, and this story, although perhaps lacking la tension of such cliff-hangers as Madeline's Rescue, provides an agreeable tour of Washington, D.C., a colorful Easter event for holiday reading, and introduces an interesting American character to the Madeline series.
Marciano's previous addition to this venerable picture book series is Madeline and the Cats of Rome.