The brave, adventurous little girl who is the title character of Ludwig Bemelmans’ “Madeline” children’s stories still delights today.
Just ask Jody T. Gable, children’s services coordinator for the Greenwood County Library System.
“These are sweet little stories,” Gable said. “When you read them aloud, the little rhymes comes through. Today’s kids don’t really understand the boarding school concept and that Miss Clavel, the teacher, takes care of the girls 24/7 in Paris. Today’s kids are curious about that.
“Children do relate to Madeline’s adventures with her little friends, like Pepito,” Gable said. “They also relate to Madeline being the smallest of the little girls, but she’s the toughest.”
The main branch of the Greenwood County Library had “Madeline” story times with Ryan S. Hewitt, Greenwood Community Theatre’s artistic director and youth and outreach coordinator this past week.
GCT’s stage production of “Madeline’s Christmas” opens to the public at 7:30 p.m. Friday, for one weekend only.
During the past few years, Hewitt said GCT and the Greenwood County Library have collaborated.
“We started with story hours with some of the characters from ‘Into the Woods’ and we did some for ‘Seussical’ and we just did ‘Madeline’s Christmas,’ Hewitt said. “A lot of our shows are literary-based. Source material often starts with a book and then maybe a movie, which was inspired by a book, and on down the line, it makes its way to the medium of musical theater.
“It’s great when we can collaborate and get people excited about seeing these characters come to life on stage,” Hewitt continued. “Kids wonder after hearing the story of ‘Madeline’s Christmas’ how are little girls going to fly on magic carpets on stage? It’s cool to see their eyes when they see how we pull that off.”
Greenwood County Library has added “Madeline’s Christmas” to its collection of Madeline books, Gable said.
“We have copies of lots of different Madeline stories and they are as popular as ever,” Gable said. “Madeline is an adventurous little girl. That’s for sure.”
Gable said GCT routinely partners with the Greenwood County Library on endeavors that highlight community theater shows and literary connections.
“People are looking for activities that enrich their children’s experiences,” Gable said of the story times and family theater opportunities. “I can’t wait to see the show with grandchildren. I want to encourage literacy and a love of reading.”
The children’s room of the main branch of the Greenwood library has bookends that give nods to popular characters and Madeline is among them.
Drake Calo, an assistant in the children’s room, recently made a cut-out of Madeline to affix to a bookend.
The first book, “Madeline” was published in 1939. The original “Madeline” was named a Caldecott Honor Book, and the first of its sequels, “Madeline’s Rescue,” received a Caldecott Medal.