When I was offered a chance to review Babar the Elephant I jumped at the chance. It immediately took me back to my childhood, I can vividly remember the illustrations of the elephants, but if I’m honest I couldn’t actually remember the stories though. We also enjoyed an animated TV series in Canada in the late 80s.
When researching this post I learned the history of the first book ‘The Story of Babar’. Apparently, when one of Jean de Brunhoff’s children was sick as a child, in the 1930s, his wife, Cecile, made up a story about an elephant who escapes the jungle and heads of to the city on a little adventure, to comfort her sick son. The children loved the story so much that they took it to their father, who was a painter and asked him to illustrate it. Coincidently a family member was a publisher and the rest is history.
As a child myself, I never noticed that there are two different authors of the Babar books. After Jean died at the age of 37 his son, Laurent who was also a painter carried on the series ‘to keep the memory of his mother and father alive’.
I’ve been enjoying reading the books to my daughter at bedtime. The first one is a bit graphic at the beginning with Babar’s mother being killed by a hunter, reminiscent of the famous scenes in Bambi. However, my daughter loves the zany adventures and we’ve also enjoyed looking up a few unknown old words like ‘shoes and spats’.
I was also a bit surprised and amused to learn that Babar married his cousin and that they were married for 50 years before having their first child.
These books would make a great present for anyone who read them as a child and would like to introduce their own children to Babar.