Literary Mixtape: Madeline


If you’ve ever wondered what your favorite literary characters might be listening to while they save the world/contemplate existence/get into trouble, or hallucinated a soundtrack to go along with your favorite novels, well, us too. But wonder no more! Here, we sneak a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters. What would be on the personal playlists of Holden Caulfield or Elizabeth Bennett, Huck Finn or Harry Potter, Tintin or Humbert Humbert? Something revealing, we bet. Or at least something danceable. Read on for a cozy reading soundtrack, character study, or yet another way to emulate your favorite literary hero. This week: one of the most beloved heroines of our childhoods, Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline.

“In an old house in Paris, that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines… the smallest one was Madeline.” So begins each of Ludwig Bemelmans’ classic stories about the feisty redheaded Parisian mischief maker named Madeline. Sure, the impetuous little girl sometimes gets into trouble, but she always looks out for those around her, and is famed for her courage — even when she has to get her appendix out. Madeline is around 7 or 8 in the stories, so no heavy stuff for her — we think she’d like a mixture of French pop and cheery indie rock to soundtrack her spunky attitude. Here’s what we think she would get in trouble, tame Pepito, and snub her nose at tigers to.

Stream the mixtape here.

“Tous Les Garçons et Les Filles” — Françoise Hardy

All cool Parisian girls grow up on Françoise Hardy. Plus, while right now Madeline walks down les rues with her friends in two straight lines, someday she’ll be going deux par deux with un mec gentil. Ooh la la.

“Dur dur d’être bébé!” — Jordy

Madeline’s only 7, and she still manages to be the moral center of the group. We can see her sighing and thinking of this song when Miss Clavel ignores her suggestions for a new outing. It’s hard to be a baby!

“Paper Tiger” — Spoon

“To the tiger in the zoo, Madeline just said ‘Pooh-pooh.'” Because he was a paper tiger, you see. So many puns right now.

“I Box Up All the Butterflies” — The Boy Least Likely To

Not only would she like this bouncy, sunny little song, we can totally see Madeline creeping around with a too-big-for-her butterfly net, gleefully catching the pretty insects and escaping from Miss Clavel. We think she’d let them go at the end, though.

“Grape Juice City” — Ratatat

Obviously, a 7-year-old would be into a song called “Grape Juice City.” Plus, this seems like perfect late-night pillow fighting music for a little girl as badass as Madeline.

“Kids” — MGMT

We don’t know about you, but this song always makes us feel like we can take on anything, and that’s pretty much Madeline in a nutshell. Plus, there’s the extra bonus of it being shiny and happy and perfect for a little girl snubbing her nose at danger on a sunny day.

“Know Your Onion!” — The Shins

Though this might be a song Madeline would have to grow up a little bit to appreciate, we think it’s entirely possible that the Shins would change her life — and not in the putting-huge-headphones-on-Zach-Braff way. She’s a little more saucy than she is twee. But hey, so are the Shins.

“Comme Un Enfant” — Yelle

The queen of pink-cheeked Francophone rebellion, we think Madeline would totally be into Yelle. Even if her little flat sailor cap shows off slightly more style than that enormous lip-turban Yelle sports in the video. Not everyone can be as branchée as our Madeline.

“Ta Douleur” — Camille

Yes, this is the song from that SNL skit. But can’t you see Madeline growing up to dance-fight with the other French youth in cafés? We can.

“See You On The Moon” — Great Lake Swimmers

We know Madeline likes animals, but we think with an attitude like that and all those smarts, she could be anything she wants when she grows up. And that’s all there is; there isn’t any more.