Nothing frightens Madeline–not tigers, not mice, not even getting sick. To Madeline, a trip to the hospital is a grand adventure. A true classic, Madeline continues to enchant readers more than sixty years after its first publication.

When Madeline was a small child, her orphanage had a rat infestation.  The nuns set out traps, poison, and bought three cats, but nothing seemed to be working.  Every night all of the traps would be sprung, but no rats would be inside, and the poison simply wasn’t working.

Then one night as the head nun was going to get a glass of tequila from the kitchen (it had been a taxing day), she discovered Madeline on her hands and knees, replacing some of the rat poison with sugar.  She marched Madeline to her room, where she discovered the three cats locked in the closet, and Madeline confessed to keeping them there every night, and springing all the traps.  She didn’t see why the rats had to die, they weren’t doing anyone any harm.

A few days later Madeline contracted Rat-Bite Fever, and was sent to the hospital.

Madeline loved the hospital.  There was free room service, all the nurses and visitors thought that she was the most precious thing, and instead of having to drink nasty medicine, it was simply inserted through the tube in her arm.

Once Madeline was able to walk a bit, she made it a game to see how far away from her room she could sneak, dragging her fluids stand behind her.  Eventually the doctor tied bells to the stand, up high out of Madeline’s sight.

But all too soon the magical tube-medicine had worked, and Madeline was sent home.  The nuns  had made good use of her absence, calling an exterminator, but waiting in her room in a pink wire cage was a single, white rat, healthy and disease free from the pet store down the alley.

They told her that all the rats had gotten lonely without her, and had left to their families, but this one was so determined to stay they had built it a tiny home of it’s own, away from the cats.

Madeline named it Penicillin.


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