The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant
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The classic story of literature’s most beloved elephant. After his mother is killed by a hunter, Babar avoids capture by escaping to the city, where he is befriended by the kindly Old Lady. Later, with cousins Celeste and Arthur, he returns to the great forest to be crowned King of the Elephants. With the original illustrations from Jean de Brunhoff’s 1931 classic, this first Babar story has enchanted generations. The Story of Babar–the early adventures of the enduring, endearing elephant–used to be written in 1931 by French creator Jean de Brunhoff (1899-1937). Since then, it has been translated into at least 12 languages. It’s amazing how much can happen to one little elephant at some point of one little book: Babar loses his mother to a hunter, wanders into the city, gets a new wardrobe, becomes the hit of high society, marries his cousin Céleste (totally acceptable in latest Elephantine society), and is crowned King of the Elephants.
The Story of Babar is essentially the tale of a country boy who comes to the city and, even as there, comes of age. In spite of everything, he returns home to share his knowledge and experiences with friends and family. The beautiful, delightfully detailed illustrations–de Brunhoff used to be a painter by trade–never fail to amuse. (Even if not one of the characters seem to notice, the sight of Babar in a suit leaning against the mantel even as he regales his audience with tales of the jungle is plainly hilarious.) All the Babar books are notable for their ability to tell larger stories with simplicity and style, and The Story of Babar is no exception. Potentially troubling moments–the death of Babar’s mother, for example–are handled with taste, emphasizing Babar’s unique gift for uncovering a silver lining in the most persistent of clouds. (Ages 4 to 8, though the cursive writing makes it best for reading aloud.)
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