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John Bemelmans Marciano

Author of Madeline Says Merci

33 Works 2,650 Members 90 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author

Author and illustrator John Bemelmans Marciano is the grandson of award-winning writer Ludwig Bemelmans. John discovered an unfinished manuscript for a children's story featuring Bemelmans' beloved picture-book heroine Madeline while rummaging through his late relative's memorabilia. Although show more Marciano had never met his grandfather, who passed away in 1962, he was well aquinted with his grandfather's six "Madeline" books and Bemelmans' engaging artwork. Madeline in America, and Other Holiday Tales is based on Bemelman's unfinished manuscript, "Madeline's Christmas in Texas," completed and illustrated by Marciano. Basing his illustrations on the pencil sketches left by his grandfather, Marciano completes the story of Madeline who, with teacher Miss Clavel and the other eleven girls from her school in Paris, travels to Texas after she inherits a cattle ranch, gold mines, and oil wells. Including two other stories by Bemelmans, Madeline in America, and Other Holiday Tales also features an essay by Marciano's mother, Barbara Bemelmans, describing Christmas festivities in her artistic father's home. His title Madeline at the White House made Publisher's Weekly best seller list in 2011. (Publisher Provided) show less

Includes the name: Johnny Marciano

Also includes: John Marciano (1)

Image credit: reading at the Gaithersburg Book Festival By Slowking4 - Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48948362


Works by John Bemelmans Marciano

Madeline Says Merci (2001) 436 copies
Madeline and the Cats of Rome (2008) — Author — 266 copies
Madeline and Her Dog (2011) 218 copies
Madeline at the White House (2011) 187 copies
Madeline's Tea Party (1994) 90 copies
Madeline Loves Animals (2005) 81 copies


animals (16) ARC (10) art (13) biography (22) cats (35) chapter book (10) children (32) children's (54) children's fiction (10) children's literature (10) Christmas (34) dogs (10) English language (9) etiquette (11) etymology (21) fantasy (14) fiction (58) France (17) French (19) hardcover (13) history (21) humor (18) Italy (24) juvenile (9) kids (14) language (46) linguistics (12) Madeline (57) manners (50) non-fiction (43) picture book (98) read (13) reference (15) Rome (23) science (11) series (23) Texas (9) to-read (51) travel (9) White House (12)

Common Knowledge

Other names
Marciano, Johnny
Country (for map)
Places of residence
Three Bridges, New Jersey, USA
Columbia University
Bemelmans, Ludwig (grandfather)



A decent, interesting narrative history of the metric system, it's adoption by most of the world, and its rejection (mostly) by the United States of America. But, along with the metric system, it talks about time zones, clocks, calendar reform, coinage, and a whole host of other utopian and unifying schemes mostly dreamed up by dreamy-eyed progressive idealists.

Marciano explains some of the usefulness and utility of the old way of doing things with its 16s, 12s, 8s, 4s, 3s, and 2s and its ½, ¾, ¼, ⅛, et cetera. He explains some of the idiocy of the 10s of metric. So what 10 cm is 1 dm. Nobody uses decimeters, or dekameters, much less megameters or femtometers, or megagrams, or femtograms, or whatever.

And, the British still have their pints of beer. God bless 'em. Oh God, it bothers me that good ol' American bourbon comes in 750 ml bottles.... By God! American whiskey should be sold in fifths. (A fifth of a US liquid gallon, or 25 3⁄5 US fluid ounces.) They are cheating you out of 7 ml of whiskey! And, please, please, please, people, stop calling U.S. measurements "imperial." They ain't the same.

Anyway. It's a good book, well-researched and well-written. A dumb error in Appendix A (p. 269) makes you worry about the rest of the book: a ton is not 1000 lb., it is 2000 lbs.

I will finish with a nice paean to America's continued use of the good old measures (p. 267), which sums up everything nicely:

"But when it comes to how our measures do matter, the important thing about keeping them alive is that they provide an alternate way of thinking. The usefulness of the metric system doesn't change the fact that it is incredibly artificial. Worse, its universality leads to the notion that decimals are the only way of perceiving the world.

"In the Babylonian sixtieths, Roman twelfths, and medieval halves, quarters, and eighths there is the logic and genius of countless generations of people coming to grasp the world around them, the same way there is logic and genius in the Enlightenment tenths, hundredths, and thousandths of the metric system. What is good about the latter does not negate what is good about the former.

"Such arguments are taken as self-evident when it comes to vanishing languages or other living heritages that are endangered. America is preserving ways of thinking that were once common to all humanity, and if we get rid of our measures we will never bring them back. To be for a metric America is to be for a global monoculture.

"So how is it that those who cheer José Bove's smashing of a McDonald's and blame the United States for the Coca-Colanization of the planet would want this to happen? How can Americans be stupid, ignorant, and lazy for knowing only one language, and also be those same things for having two systems of measurement? It is because not being metric plays into the idea that America thinks of itself as not having to play by the same rules as the rest of the world. This may be a fair enough criticism in other cases, but not this one.

"America has never gone metric because it never had to, and every other country did. Most of them converted while undergoing regime changes, industrializing, and trying to make their people literate and numerate. It used to be that diversity was the enemy of a better life; we now live in an age where the villain has become uniformity."

Huzzah the old measures. Down with the metric system!
… (more)
tuckerresearch | 1 other review | Feb 10, 2023 |
Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.
fernandie | 8 other reviews | Sep 15, 2022 |



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