The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff

Images and text by Carter.

I think I’ve mentioned it once or twice or a million times, but we are in love with elephants around here. I probably haven’t told you about the stuffed elephant that sits in my closet, who once upon a time played ‘You Are My Sunshine‘ and now has a floppy neck, ears rubbed ragged, and decades of dust. And then there’s this elephant I love – Babar, the Elephant King. Jean de Brunhoff wrote a handful of stories about him, starting with this one, The Story of Babar.

French picture books from the early 1930s are wilder, perhaps even riskier, than some of our tamer fare today. The kid in me remembers Babar’s fancy trip to the city, recklessly riding the elevator, and his dashing green suit and derby hat. I had forgotten about the terribly brutal loss of his mother – which occurs close to the first page! But Babar the orphan was far from ordinary. And Babar the extraordinary gives hope to tough beginnings. What this story does with such grace and confidence is a gift to a young reader. It challenges them to look at sadness and trusts that they are courageous enough to celebrate the happily ever after. I love Babar for that just as much as I love his shoes with spats.

P.S. – On a lighter note, I think Celeste’s wedding gown should go down in fashion history with Kate Middleton’s! It is long and lovely and fit for a Queen!