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Ludwig Bemelmans was a painter, illustrator, and writer for both children and adults. A world traveler, he spent most of his time in New York City or Paris. The original inspiration for Madeline was the result of his bicycle accident on an island of France. Hospitalized after being hit by the only car on the island, Mr. Bemelmans recalled, “The sisters in that small hospital wore large, starched white hats that looked like the wings of a giant butterfly. In the room next to mine was a little girl who had had her appendix out. In the ceiling over my bed was a crack ‘that had the habit of sometimes looking like a rabbit.’” A year later, back in New York City, he penned the first draft of Madeline on the backs of menus in Pete’s Tavern. The Madeline books rank among the most-honored children’s books series. Madeline was named a Caldecott Honor Book and the first of its five sequels, Madeline’s Rescue, won the Caldecott Medal and was a New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year. Mr. Bemelmans died in 1962, after completing Madeline’s Christmas.
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