Babar the Elephant Turns 80! [Review]

Babar the Elephant Turns 80The Story of Babar the Little Elephant

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.