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John Bemelmans Marciano (1970–) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Sidelights

madeline review book canal

Born 1970; grandEducation: Majored in art history.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Viking, Penguin Putnam, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.


Writer and illustrator



Madeline Says Merci: The Always-Be-Polite Book, Viking (New York, NY), 2001.

Delilah, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.

Harold's Tail, Viking (New York, NY), 2003.

There's a Dolphin in the Grand Canal!, Viking (New York, NY), 2005.


(With Ludwig Bemelmans) Madeline in America, and Other Holiday Tales (contains "The Count and the Cobbler," "Bemelmans' Christmas Memory," and "Sunshine"), Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.

Bemelmans: The Life and Art of Madeline's Creator, edited by C. Hennessy, illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans, Viking (New York, NY), 1999.


Author and illustrator John Bemelmans Marciano began his career in children's literature in an almost magical fashion: The grandson of award-winning writer Ludwig Bemelmans, John discovered an unfinished manuscript for a children's story featuring Bemelmans' beloved picture-book heroine Madeline while rummaging through his late relative's memorabilia. Although Marciano had never met his grandfather, who passed away in 1962, his mother introduced him to the six "Madeline" books and Bemelmans' engaging artwork. Madeline in America, and Other Holiday Tales is based on Bemelman's unfinished manuscript, "Madeline's Christmas in Texas," completed and illustrated by Marciano. Basing his illustrations on the pencil sketches left by his grandfather, Marciano completes the story of Madeline who, with teacher Miss Clavel and the other eleven girls from her school in Paris, travels to Texas after she inherits a cattle ranch, gold mines, and oil wells. Including two other stories by Bemelmans, Madeline in America, and Other Holiday Tales also features an essay by Marciano's mother, Barbara Bemelmans, describing Christmas festivities in her artistic father's home.

Since reintroducing Madeline to generations of new audiences, Marciano has featured the perky French schoolgirl in his original work, Madeline Says Merci: The
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Always-Be-Polite Book, in which Madeline is transformed into what School Library Journal contributor Carol Schene dubbed "a mini 'Miss Manners.'" Taking place in the streets of Paris, the book finds Madeline exhibiting proper behavior in a variety of situations, each captured in illustrations that, according to Schene, show that Bemelmans' "impish Parisian is still alive and well." In addition to reprising his grandfather's picture-book character, Marciano has produced Bemelmans: The Life and Art of Madeline's Creator, a study of the Caldecott Medal-winning author/illustrator and journalist that was praised by a Horn Book critic as "an entirely affectionate biography."

Marciano has gone on to expand his repertoire beyond the antics of Madeline. In Delilah he tells a tale of friendship between a farmer and a frisky lamb that soon becomes the farmer's constant companion. Enjoying the lamb, named Delilah, so much, the farmer acquires a whole flock of sheep, only to realize that the value of one thing is not always increased when it is acquired in large numbers. Calling Delilah "a charmer," Jeanne Clancy Watkins predicted that young readers "will not be able to resist these engaging friends," while a Kirkus Reviews critic concluded that the book "is sure to become a bedtime favorite." Most critics praised Marciano's illustrations, a Publishers Weekly reviewer noting that the author/illustrator "draws faces with the evocative simplicity of his grandfather's draftsmanship." The Kirkus Reviews writer deemed the pencil and gouache artwork "delightfully simple."

Other books by Marciano include Harold's Tail, about a Manhattan-dwelling squirrel who learns what life is like for the less fortunate when he takes a dare, shaves the fluff from his tail, and finds himself reviled due to his resemblance to a city rat. In Booklist, Julie Cummins described Harold's Tail as a "clever, urban animal survival tale," while a Kirkus Reviews contributor viewed Marciano's illustrated story as a "study of prejudice and elitism" disguised as a lively children's book. Animals also star in There's a Dolphin in the Grand Canal!, as a boy living in Venice, Italy, discovers a dolphin frolicking in the waters of the city's canal but has a difficult time convincing his parents. Noting that the Venice scenery, with its "meticulous painted brickwork and golden touches," is the author/illustrator's "strong suit," a Publishers Weekly critic wrote that There's a Dolphin in the Grand Canal! "makes for an entertaining introduction to Venice." School Library Journal critic Wendy
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Lukehart maintained that Marciano's picture-book "romp" effectively "capture[s] the grandeur and diversity of Venetian architecture and the magical quality of the liquid streets."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, August, 2002, Helen Rosenberg, review of Delilah, p. 1973; September 1, 2003, Julie Cummins, review of Harold's Tale, p. 119; June 1, 2005, Karin Snelson, review of There's a Dolphin in the Grand Canal!, p. 1822.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 2000, review of Bemelmans: The Life and Art of Madeline's Creator, p. 297.

Horn Book, January, 2000, review of Bemelmans, p. 106.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2002, review of Delilah, p. 660; August 2, 2003, review of Harold's Tale, p. 1020; May 15, 2005, review of There's a Dolphin in the Grand Canal!, p. 592.

Oakland Press, January 12, 2000, p. D3.

Publishers Weekly, November 19, 2001, review of Madeline Says Merci: The Always-Be-Polite Book, p. 70; April 15, 2002, review of Delilah, p. 63; August 11, 2003, review of Harold's Tale, p. 280; June 27, 2005, review of There's a Dolphin in the Grand Canal!, p. 62.

School Library Journal, December, 2001, Carol Schene, review of Madeline Says Merci, p. 124; February, 2000, Lisa Falk, review of Madeline in America, and Other Holiday Tales, p. 91; August, 2002, Jeanne Clancy Watkins, review of Delilah, p. 161; November, 2003, Susan Helper, review of Harold's Tale, p. 108; August, 2005, Wendy Lukehart, review of There's a Dolphin in the Grand Canal!, p. 102.

Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 2000, review of Bemelmans, p. 206.


BookPage, http://www.bookpage.com/ (June, 2002), Heidi Henneman, interview with Marciano.

Canadian Review of Materials Online, http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/ (February 18, 2000), Dave Jenkinson, review of Madeline in America, and Other Holiday Tales.

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over 7 years ago

Loved the Madeline books. Read them to my daughter and now to my granddaughter. Just purchased Madeline goes to Washington. My granddaughter is 9 so is a little old for these books but still loves them.

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about 1 month ago

This morning as I'm helping my little girl get ready for her Book Presentation I felt compelled to write to you. Thanks goes to your Grandfather for writing Madeline which was my favourite book growing up. I named my little girl Madeline. I waited 10 years to adopt this spirited little girl. She may not have red hair (my Madeline is from China) but she's Madeline by name and spirit.
We love your words and stories and of course all the drawings.
Your books let girls know you can have adventure and be spirited with Love. Our love to you.
Kate and Madeline xxx