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In an old, vine-covered house in Paris live 12 little girls. They wear wide-brimmed hats and matching yellow outfits, and walk in two perfect rows. Madeline is the smallest girl, and the most daring. She's not afraid to touch a mouse or go near a tiger in the zoo.
But one night she wakes up in pain and Madame Clavel, the mistress of the house, can hear Madeline crying all the way from her own bedroom. Madame Clavel calls the doctor, and in no time, Madeline is rushed to the hospital to have her appendix removed. Everyone at the house misses Madeline, and Madame Clavel decides to take the 11 girls to visit their little friend in the hospital. They take her flowers and find Madeline in her hospital bed happily surrounded by the gifts of toys and candies she has received from well-wishers. Madeline even has a scar to show to them, which the other girls look at with awe, and a little envy. That night, back at the house, Madame Clavel again hears the crying of a little girl. She hurries to the bedroom where the girls sleep in two rows of beds and discovers every single one of the remaining girls crying in pain, all of them wanting to go to the hospital and get gifts, and a scar, just like Madeline!