Happy Birthday John Bemelmans Marciano - February 19
a molasses flood, papier-mache creations, pumpkin treats, and hearts for the tweets. This week we share yet another reading experience with you from our kitchen table inspired by author and illustrator John Bemelmans Marciano.
John Bemelmans Marciano is an author and illustrator of numerous picture books for children and is also the grandson of Ludwig Bemelmans, the creator of Madeline. In an interview with Reading Rockets he said, "I think you could say Madeline was my mom." When she was around three years old, Ludwig took her on vacation to Paris. It was this trip that later inspired Madeline. (Click here to read the full story on Anita Silvey's Children's Book-a-Day Almanac.)
Marciano tried many things before becoming a writer; architecture, working for a small newspaper, film school, CD-ROM programmer. Then, he visited his grandmother's house with the idea of writing a book about his grandfather. He found that his grandfather "kept everything he drew," which provided everything he needed to write Bemelmans: The Life and Art of Madeline's Creator.
Among the collection of drawings, Marciano uncovered unfinished stories, which he compiled and illustrated as Madeline in America (1999). At the Mazza Museum Fall Conference 2013 he said, "The challenge in making the Madeline books is creating what people remember." I feel confident saying that everyone at the conference agreed that John has made Madeline his own while carrying on his grandfather's legacy. He has made four Madeline full-length picture books including Madeline and the Cats in Rome and the latest, Madeline and the Old House in Paris which was released in October 2013. He has also published a Madeline board book, Madeline Loves Animals and a few early readers, Madeline and Her Dog and Madeline's Tea Party.
|This is a photo from the Mazza Museum Fall Conference 2013. John Bemelmans Mariciano is on the far right. Others pictured are John Rocco, Eugene Yelchin, Robin Preiss Glasser, and Patricia Polacco.|
John's grandfather also loved comic books. John said, "My grandfather really wanted to be a comic strip artist." Ludwig Bemelmans wrote the comic strip The Thrilling Adventures of Count Bric a Brac in the 1920s, and Mariciano pointed out that if you really look at it, "Madeline is like a comic strip ripped apart." Another observation Marciano made was that when Madeline was published in 1939 it had to compete with popular comic books like Superman.
After I reviewed my notes from the conference, I realized that the best way to celebrate John Bemelmans Marciano's birthday would be visit a local comic book store, copy comic book characters at our kitchen table, and read all his Madeline books over and over again.
|We went to our local comic book store J.C. Comics and Cards in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.|
|There were so many books and comics to look at. Thankfully, my brother-in-law gave us a few recommendations to guide us in our selections.|
|We found the Avengers Assemble, Tiny Titans, Beware of Batman comic books and a Lego Ninjago Graphic Novel.|
|When we arrived at home we got out our sketchbooks, our Madeline books, and we were ready to draw at the kitchen table!|
|We used our new "comic book markers" too.|
|My older son copied the front cover of the Batman comic book, and my youngest son started with Nya the female ninja from Ninjago.|
|He later moved onto the ghost in Madeline and the Old House in Paris. This was his favorite Madeline book of the week. I think we read it a half dozen times!|
|My daughter copied characters from Tiny Titans.|
|She was very happy with her drawings.|
|This drawing is of Sinsei Wu with his hat drawn by my youngest son.|
|This drawing is of Batman throwing a punch drawn by my oldest son.|
|And finally, my son's favorite character from the week, Felix de Lamorte, the ghost from Madeline and the Old House in Paris.|
1. Video Interview with John Bemelmans Marciano - Reading Rockets
2. Interviews - NPR
3. National Book Festival Keynote 2011 - Library of Congress YouTube
4. John Bemelmans Marciano reads Madeline and the White House at THE WHITE HOUSE - YouTube