I had trouble corralling Sigourney for this story. Maybe a 4th Madeline story in two days is too much, or at least reduces the awe factor connected with the many-colored pictures. As always, Bemelmans' artwork is beautiful. The circus, the bus station, and my particular favorite the gypsy mama staring into the crystal ball - all reveal the artist's giftedness.
My only discomfort stemmed from the depiction of the Roma, or gypsy people. I've read enough about the struggles of the Roma in Europe to avoid stereotypes related to their culture. Granted, the Roma do not kidnap Madeline and Pepito per say. But they do attempt to hide them from Ms. Clavel and the girls when they come hunting for their friends. Sewing kids into a lion's hide and making them jump through hoops as part of the circus? Now that's a costume!
I love Bemelmans' sense of humor. How funny is it that, upon receiving a postcard from Madeline and Pepito, a worried Ms. Clavel responds: "Thank heaven, the children are well! But dear, oh dear, they've forgotten how to spell." Ever the consummate educator, that Ms. Clavel.
Not surprisingly, all ends well. The Roma mama is sad to lose the new talent. And Ms. Clavel and the girls celebrate the return of Madeline and Pepito. The nun even allows some bed flipping and such before bedtime! Ms. Clavel is growing alongside the girls: "Good night, little girls, thank the Lord you are well! And now PLEASE go to sleep." Well, growing a little I guess.
Overall, I liked "Madeline and the Gypsies" very much, but it doesn't have the wow factor of "Madeline" and "Madeline's Rescue". A worthy read to a little one.