The Madeline Series brings back so many fond memories from my childhood! Growing up, I read Madeline in English (available here), and I’m so happy that I can share favorite childhood books with my children in Chinese! Since my daughter was captivated by the original Madeline book in English, I knew I had to find Madeline books in Chinese! Madeline was named a Caldecott Honor Book, the most prestigious award for brilliantly illustrated American picture books. There are a total of 12 Madeline books; the original 6 were written by Ludwig Bemelmans while the rest were authored by his grandson, John Bemelmans Marciano. Both of my children (almost 5-year-old daughter, almost 2-year-old son) love these books!!!
Shopping for Madeline books in Chinese is confusing. There are so many different versions, and I have not seen any reviews comparing them side-by-side. I have two different simplified Chinese versions of the Madeline series which I will compare here. I actually don’t recommend either version that I have. I am sharing these details to warn about the cons of these sets in hope that you can find a better set for your family. These books are also available in traditional Chinese (eg, books.com.tw, China Sprout, Gloria’s bookstore).
Please note that you can also listen to the Madeline books for free on Ximalaya!! Since there are many different titles and narrators, you may need to search by the book title to find the desired narration. 甜甜阿姨 is one of our favorite narrators on Ximalaya. Her recording is very clear and crisp, and her voice is clear and engaging. Click here to listen to the Mandarin narration while reading the books!
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Madeline Books: Set of 10 paperback stories
Title: French Girl Madeline Books 书法国女孩玛德琳系列 (10 books)
Author: Ludwig Bemelmans, John Bemelmans Marciano
Age level: 3-7 years
Language: Simplified Chinese with Hanyu Pinyin
Where to buy:
- 玛德琳 (Madeline) – Madeline has appendicitis and is rushed to the hospital for an appendectomy.
- 玛德琳的救命狗 (Madeline’s rescue) – Madeline falls off a bridge and is saved by a dog.
- 玛德琳和小捣蛋 (Madeline and the Bad Hat) – Pepito is the misbehaving new neighbor
- 小捣蛋与小猫咪 (Madeline and the Cats of Rome) – Madeline and her friends travel to Rome in spring.
- 玛德琳和吉普赛人 (Madeline and the Gypsies) – Madeline and Pepito run away to join a carnival with group of gypsies.
- 马戏团里的狮子 (Madeline Loves Animals) – Madeline travels to the zoo and meets the animals.
- 玛德琳游伦敦 (Madeline in London) – Madeline and her friends visit Pepito to celebrate his birthday.
- 玛德琳的魔法圣诞夜 (Madeline’s Christmas) – Brave Madeline has to run the school because Miss Clavel and the rest of the girls are sick.
Brief overview of pros and cons
I bought this set of 10 Madeline paperback books from on Taobao because the Hanyu Pinyin is above the simplified Chinese characters, which I depend on as a non-fluent speaker. I also liked how this set had most of the Madeline books (other sets have only 3-6 books), and I wanted collect more because my daughter loves listening to the stories on Ximalaya. The illustrations are just like the English version: every other page is alternating colorful illustrations with dynamic yellow and black sketches. Although the translation of the European names are rather clunky, the story is actually quite rhythmic like the original English version. For example, my daughter loves to repeat this stanza, “面对面吃面包. 脸对脸刷牙. 脚对脚睡觉.”
The downsides to this version are many, including the thin paperback and the difficult-to-read text. Since our kids have been wanting to read and listen to these books almost everyday for a few weeks, the pages are quickly becoming wrinkled as you can see in my photos. Since the books are so large, they fit awkardly on my bookshelf, therefore making them more susceptible to wear and tear. It is no surprisenthat this full set was inexpensive with a cost around $10 USD!
I am also very bothered by the font and layout! It’s small and in different parts of each page. I feel like my eyes are darting all over the page looking for the next words! Also, sometimes there is a white background that covers part of the illustration; other times the text is over the yellow background. I also spotted an illustration error toward the end of the original Madeline book: on the page where the children are eating together, Madeline is pictured when she should actually be in the hospital! She is appropriately absent in the subsequent two images however.
Lastly, the front cover appears to have a typo!! Who is Mdelin? I have never seen that spelling before. For these reasons, I have almost questioned whether these books are authentic, but they are sold by a Tmall bookstore with mostly positive reviews.
Here are photos of these paperback Madeline books with Pinyin!
For size comparison, here is our English Madeline board book next to a large paperback Chinese Madeline book.
Madeline Books: Thick paperback book with 3 stories plus CD
Title: Madeline books 玛德琳系列 (3 books) with CD
Author: Ludwig Bemelmans
Age level: 3-7 years
Language: Simplified Chinese & English
Where to buy:
- 玛德林 (Madeline)
- 玛德琳和坏小子 (Madeline and the Bad Hat)
- 玛德琳的圣诞节 (Madeline’s Christmas)
Brief overview of pros and cons
This was first Madeline book that I purchased in Chinese! This book was purchased from China Sprout, a US online retailer. Although it is paperback, it is very thick and looks great on my bookshelf! The pages are more crisp and durable. I love the layout of this book; the illustrations and bilingual text are consistently separate from each other. The predictable flow makes it easy to follow the text. Adorable Madeline figures holding up page numbers on each page!
However, this set is collecting dust on our bookshelf. Because the book is so thick, it is harder for my kids to find the story that they want to read and the pictures that they want to study. While the book is fine for a parent reading with a child, the book is relatively heavy and uncomfortable for a young child to hold independently. The translation is also somewhat different than the audio narrations on Ximalaya FM, so it’s harder to follow along in that sense. For example, the title 玛德琳和小捣蛋 is 玛德琳和坏小子 in this set. However, the Ximalaya recordings use 小捣蛋.
Lastly, the CD does NOT work on a regular CD player!! I was able to play it on my laptop CD player, but this is inconvenient as I do not want my children using my laptop. The beauty of CDs is that young children can independently pop them in the CD player, but unfortunately this CD is essentially useless for us.
I prefer the set of 10 paperback Madeline books because they come with pinyin and are easy for my children to hold. However, the layout is disorganized and frustrating to follow. While the thicker book is better quality, the CD does not work, and the bulkiness is an obstacle. There are other options available, and I would recommend looking for a version that has the positive features of each of these two sets. I would suggest looking for a hardcover version where the illustrations and text have a consistent layout.
Regardless of the downsides, we absolutely love these stories and highly recommend them to other families!
Do you have any of the Madeline books? What do you think of the Chinese version of these stories?
Where to buy Chinese books for kids
For more Chinese book recommendations for kids, please visit and bookmark this link of our favorite books! Every week, I will be adding book reviews to this website!
If you’re wondering where to buy Chinese books for children, please click here for a list of the most popular online bookstores!
To shop low book prices on TaoBao, here is the How-To Guide for using TaobaoRing.
Recommended articles about how to teach kids Chinese
If you need tips on how to teach your child Chinese, these posts are for you!
- Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps
- How To Get Your Child To Speak the Minority Language
- Raising Multilingual Children as a Non-Fluent Parent
- 10 Ways to Get Your Child to Read Throughout the Day
- 6 Fun Ways to Assess Reading Comprehension With Kids!
Bilingual English and Chinese Facebook Parent Group
As always, please leave a comment with any questions, and I’ll try my best to answer them! Or better yet, please join our Facebook group! Montessori-inspired Kids Learning Chinese and English is a community of parents worldwide who are excited to share bilingual book recommendations, Montessori tips, and learning materials!
Happy reading, friends!