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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Story of Babar (The)
by Jean de Brunhoff
Age Range: 6-8
In The Story of Babar we are introduced to Babar the elephant for the first time. Babar lives in the jungle with his mother but disaster strikes when she is killed by a hunter. He runs away to a town, which has many similarities to Paris, where he is befriended by an old lady who teaches him the human ways by dressing and educating him. He experiences human life – buying clothes, eating dinner at a table, sleeping in a proper bed, having a bath and driving a car. Finally he marries his cousin Celeste.
This is the first Babar book originally published as Histoire de Babar in 1931. Jean de Brunhoff wrote and illustrated six more stories before his death in 1937. The idea for the book came from his wife who told the story to her children at bedtime. Brunhoff’s naïve, child-like colour illustrations are very charming and stand out beautifully against the white background. The English language version appeared in 1933 in Britain and the United States and since then has enjoyed great international acclaim in many parts of the world for more than 50 years having been translated into many languages. The rest is history; with an array of books featuring this well-known character, future stories have been continued by his son Laurent since 1946.