Rosebud adores the character of Madeline, created by Lugwig Bemelmans. Madeline is a Parisian school girl who is strong willed, high spirited and kind, all attributes shared by sweet Rosebud. She avidly consumes all things Madeline; books, movies, shows, toys. As she was learning to talk, a guaranteed way to get her to crack up was to recite,
“To the tiger in the zoo, Madeline said..”
and she would scream, “Poo-Poo!”
She was a very cute Madeline for Halloween when she was three: No one was surprised when she requested a Madeline themed fourth birthday party.My favorite book as a child was the charming Madeline and the Gypsies, so at first I envisioned a circus thing and started making a disturbing number of tiny bunting. I remembered just in time that this is not actually a party for my lost childhood. Rosebud doesn’t identify with that book as much as I do; she is mischievous but not the sort to embrace the chaos of running away with the circus. I had also delivered way too many lectures on the casual racism in children’s literature to expect her to not find the portrayal of “gypsies” problematic (I am not joking, I ruin all the stuff they like this way).
Most children’s Madeline parties I found on line really play to the bright primaries of the cartoon, which I do enjoy, but I did want to also evoke the washed out brilliance of Bemelmans’ original illustrations. I used this drawing from Madeline in London for the invitation, which I elected to just text to the parents of the invited guests, except for Goblin Girl’s mother Elaine WHO HAS A FLIP PHONE.
Through long and violent experience, I don’t like bashy pinatas for the under sixes, so I made a pull pinata Eiffel Tower. First I made a tall pyramid out of poster board and masking tape.
I painted it white , then the tower painted sketchily on with black acyrilic paint. In the bottom I cut a hole, stuffed the goodies in and then made a basic pull pinata. I will make a post about this someday, in the meantime, here are reasonable though shoddy instructions!I also made a number of trees, lampposts and the like, cut out of poster board and painted in the style of Bemelmans’ drawings. As you can see from this picture I really rocked the frenchie theme for the food: Cheese, tiny french breads, french onion dip, blue white and red fruit salad and straws.And of course croissants and petit fours! They definitly count as french even if everything fs from Trader Joe’s!The cake was coconut with strawberry frosting and Red Vine hair!
The girls played “Pin the Bow on Geneiveve” and had a French dance party. The brother’s had been taken bowling and it was nice for January, so they mostly played outside!
I had gone a little wild on the cookies so I decided to skip candy in the pinata. Instead I embroidered little cloth bags with the name of each girl, and filled each with a few treasures, including a little Madeline doll for each!
In Rosebud’s bag was a full Madeline play-set: all twelve little girls, Miss Clavel, Genevieve the dog and Pepito. They all loved them, although not of course enough not to bemoan the lack of candy! Poor, suffering children with their thoughtful, handmade gifts. The boys came home and terrorized the girls for a bit before we
set Madeline’s hair on fire lit the birthday candles and ate her pink face had cake.The night ended as all of our parties do: adults burning stuff in the back yard while the kids watch the Madeline movie for the 1,000,000 time.
I also made Rosebud a witch doll to be friends with her big Madeline doll, and to accompany the lovely Meg and Mog omnibus I gave her. My grandma sent me this series of books, written by Helen Nicoll and illustrated by the amazing Jan Pienkowski when I was small, and they were formative. I bought this collection when she was born and been hoarding it until she stopped eating her books. Our kids are fated for nerddom!