Since a dog plays a major role, Sigourney had plenty of opportunities to practice her canine-related vocabulary - "puppy!" "doggie!" "woof woof!" and "rowrrrrrrr!" Bemelmans' drawings never fail to delight her. At 17 months, she's obviously much too young to comprehend Bemelmans' dark side, but it's there again, though expressed with a lighter touch than in "Madeline and the Bad Hat." Madeline's fall from a bridge provides the best example:
[Madeline] knew so well
How to frighten Ms. Clavel -
Until the day she slipped and fell.
Poor Madeline would now be dead
But for a dog that kept it's head,
And dragged her safe from a watery grave.
Maybe I need to start preparing my dad-to-daughter talk about death sooner than I'd anticipated.
Again, the drawings are fantastic. The first drawing of the girls fighting over who would get to sleep with the dog; Madeline looking out the window onto darkened Paris streets wishing for the dog (Genevieve) to return; and the entire sequence of the girls and Ms. Clavel searching high and low for Genevieve - all are terrific. Just look at the drawing of the girls scouring a famous cemetery to find Genevieve! Such amazing detail of the headstones down the the inscription on Oscar Wilde's grave - "And alien tears will fill for him pity's long broken urn. For his mourners will be outcast men and outcasts always mourn." Clearly Bemelmans intends parents and children alike to enjoy his works.
The ending is intensely sweet. Siggy squealed with delight when the litter of puppies came on the scene. That's all I needed to give "Madeline's Rescue" a 5-star review. No chicken guillotines, harangued cats or predator/prey encounters in this one. A really enjoyable read!